Review of Court Decisions - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 43, No. 1
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
LABOR- PUBLIC POLICY- SCOPE OF JUDICIAL REVIEW
Absent fraud or dishonesty, the courts may not reconsider the merits of an arbitration award for errors of fact or alleged contract misinterpretations. In addition, refusal to enforce an award for contravention of public policy is only justified when such policy is well defined, dominant, and ascertained by reference to laws and legal precedents, rather than general considerations of supposed public interests.
Pursuant to a provision in the collective bargaining agreement, Misco discharged Cooper, an employee, for possessing marijuana on plant premises. His discharge was grieved, and the arbitrator reinstated him with full back pay and seniority on the basis that the company had insufficient evidence to prove that he had violated the rule against drug use and/or possession. Misco moved to vacate the award, contending that the award was contrary to public policy. The district court agreed, finding that, because Cooper's job entailed the operation of dangerous machinery, the award ran counter to safety concerns and must be set aside. On appeal, the Fifth Circuit affirmed, finding that reinstatement would violate the public policy "against the operation of dangerous machinery by persons under the influence of drugs or alcohol" (768 F.2d 739, 745 (5th Cir. 1985)).