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Published: September 12, 2011

On September 12, 2011, the Genesee County Circuit Court granted summary disposition to a municipal water authority and vacated a binding arbitration decision in its entirety. This dispute involved the voluntary quit of the water authority’s former employee after the employee was absent for three consecutive days without notifying the employer. The water authority was represented by McGraw Morris P.C. attorneys Thomas J. McGraw and Stacy J. Belisle. The employee disagreed that she voluntarily quit and submitted a grievance through her union. An arbitration hearing was held in October 2010, during which the employee admitted to being absent for three consecutive days without notifying the water authority. The arbitrator, in a written decision, determined that the employee’s inattention to the water authority’s attendance policy demonstrated “a shocking level of indifference regarding her job status and evidenced an intent to quit.” Despite this, the arbitrator refused to apply the water authority’s voluntary quit policy, applied a more lenient seniority provision in the parties’ collective bargaining agreement and ordered that the employee be returned to her previous position. The water authority filed a lawsuit in Genesee County Circuit Court asking that the trial court vacate the arbitrator’s decision. At a hearing on the matter, the trial court vacated the arbitrator’s award in its entirety and determined that the arbitrator exceeded her contractual authority under the parties’ collective bargaining agreement by selectively applying the more lenient seniority standard. In granting summary disposition in favor of the water authority, the trial court both vacated the arbitrator’s binding arbitration award and reinstated the water authority’s determination that the employee voluntarily quit her employment. The union did not appeal the decision.

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