On April 11, 2012, UPSEU secured a huge arbitration victory for one of its UPSEU members in the City of Springfield, Massachusetts, specifically in the Fire Department.
The issue revolved around a member not providing the City of Springfield with a reason of illness for two (2) separate sick days. The collective bargaining agreement clearly outlines that an employee must provide a reason for illness once the employee has been out of work for three (3) days or more.
The City of Springfield argued that the UPSEU member who works in the Fire Department shall be ordered to follow all rules and procedures of the City of Springfield Fire Department and must provide a reason for illness, for all sick days. The City of Springfield also went on to say in the arbitration hearing that they believe the member should consider Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) due to the use of sick days. The member had utilized the FMLA protection in the past, however, the City exposed the members name and nature of illness to the entire department, to their own admission in the arbitration hearing.
In the end, justice prevailed for the UPSEU member. The arbitrator, Susan R. Brown, issued an award that stated “The City of Springfield violated the collective bargaining agreement by failing to pay the grievant sick leave benefits on two occasions. Within 30 days of the date of this award, the City shall pay the grievant 15 hours of back pay at the relevant rate.” The arbitrator, Ms. Brown, also referenced the City’s position on FMLA in her award. Ms. Brown stated, “The City might be well-served to educate itself on the privacy protections afforded employees by the FMLA which require specified employees who are not supervisors to handle protected medical information in accordance with HIPAA and other statutory protections.”
We would like to thank John Connor, General Counsel for UPSEU, Matt Geer, UPSEU Labor Relations Representative and Roger Stolen, UPSEU Labor Relations Representative for their preparation, research and execution to ensure justice prevailed. In addition, UPSEU would like to thank the Unit President, Timothy Woodward, for his hard work and dedication to this case.