United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge
case arises out of a disputed arbitration between Steward
Holy Family Hospital, Inc. ("the Hospital" or
"plaintiff") and the Massachusetts Nurses
Association ("the MNA" or "defendant")
after the Hospital discharged one of its employees (a member
of the MNA) for alleged misconduct. Plaintiff asserts that
the arbitrator exceeded the scope of his authority under the
Collective Bargaining Agreement ("the CBA") when he
reinstated the employee and ordered that she receive
back-pay. The Hospital now seeks an order vacating the
arbitration award which the MNA urges the Court to confirm.
the Court are plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and
defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings or, in
the alternative, for summary judgment. For the reasons that
follow, plaintiff's motion for summary judgment will be
allowed and defendant's motion for summary judgment will
operates an acute care hospital in Methuen, Massachusetts.
Defendant is the authorized collective bargaining
representative of the registered nurses employed at the
Hospital. The Hospital and the MNA entered into a CBA which
was effective from December 2013 through October 2016.
XXXIII of the CBA, entitled "Discipline and
Discharge", provides that a nurse who has completed a
probationary period and acquired seniority may not be
suspended, demoted, discharged or otherwise disciplined
except for "just cause". That section also provides
that discipline may include counseling, verbal warnings,
written warnings, suspension and/or termination and that
[t]he Hospital may utilize whatever level of discipline it
believes is appropriate depending on the
circumstances, but it will make reasonable efforts to
utilize progressive discipline, (emphasis added)
V of the CBA, however, expressly retains the exclusive right
of the Hospital
to discipline and discharge Employees for just cause . . .
[and] to issue, amend and enforce reasonable work rules and
policies not inconsistent with the provisions of this
G to the CBA explains that all existing employment policies
applicable to hospital employees are incorporated into the
agreement so long as they do not contradict an express term
of the CBA.
such incorporated policy is the Hospital's Disciplinary
Action Policy. That policy provides that employees who engage
in certain behavior, such as "threatening, intimidating,
or coercing fellow employees", known as "Group
III" offenses, are subject to immediate termination from
employment on the first offense. Group III incorporates by
reference the Hospital's Zero Tolerance for Disrespect
Policy which states that the Hospital
will not tolerate verbal, written or physical conduct by
anyone who works or practices at [the Hospital] which . . .
[c]reates an intimidating, offensive or hostile environment .
. ., [d]isrupts the operation of the hospital or individuals
working therein . . . [or] [d]amages the hospital's
reputation in the community it serves.
policy defines "disruptive conduct" as, among other
[v]erbal or physical intimidation . . . [or] [a]ttacks,
threats or other conduct (physical or verbal) directed at
members of the medical staff [or] hospital employees . . .
which are personal, inappropriate, or exceed the bounds of
fair and decent behavior.
X of the CBA, entitled "Grievance and Arbitration",
sets forth a grievance procedure that may be used to resolve
disputes between the Hospital and its employees and also
provides for arbitration if a grievance remains unresolved.
The parties agreed that the arbitrator's authority
shall be limited to the interpretation and application of the
parties' Agreement. No arbitrator shall have the
authority to add to, subtract from, or modify the agreement
in any respect, or to substitute his/her discretion or
judgment for that of the Hospital. The Arbitrator's
decision on any duly submitted grievance shall be final and
binding upon the parties and any aggrieved Nurse or Nurses,
Bean was a registered nurse at the Hospital and a member of
the bargaining unit represented by the MNA. During the course
of her employment, Bean received verbal warnings several
times for inappropriate behavior at work that violated
hospital policy, including pulling a colleague's hair and
profanely defying an order of her supervisor.
January 28 and February 1, 2016, Bean called the home
telephone of her colleague Nancy Waterhouse five times to
pressure her to withdraw a request for vacation that
conflicted with Bean's request for vacation time. On
February 2, 2016, as Bean entered the hospital breakroom, she
grabbed Waterhouse by the face and shook her head while
laughing and saying "Did you get your vacation all
straightened out?" After an investigation, the Hospital
determined that, in light ...