Facts: Respondent Kitsap County fired a deputy sheriff for 29 documented incidents of misconduct, including untruthfulness. Pursuant to a collect bargaining agreement, an arbitrator heard the case and determined the charges against the deputy were accurate, but termination was not the appropriate penalty and in effect reinstated the deputy. The Superior Court for Kitsap County entered a summary judgment to the County on the deputy’s breach of contract claim, but refused to vacate the arbitration award. The Court of Appeals overturned the arbitrator’s decision as contrary to public policy. Petitioner Kitsap County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild appealed to the Supreme Court of Washington, arguing that the Court of Appeals failed to describe the specific public policy violated by the arbitrator’s decision, and that the arbitrator’s decision qualifies the deputy for back pay.
Question(s): Does an arbitration decision reinstating a deputy sheriff who has been found to be untruthful violate an explicit, well defined, and dominant public policy and must therefore be vacated?
Does the arbitration award qualify the deputy for back pay?
Conclusion: Justice Owens’ opinion for the Court held that the Court of Appeals erred because it did not demonstrate an explicit, well-defined, and dominant public policy violated by the arbitration award that would justify voiding the award on public policy grounds. However, the arbitrator’s decision to disallow back pay and require the deputy to pass fitness-for-duty exams prior to returning was part of his determination of the proper remedy and did not exceed his scope of authority. Since the County appropriately returned the deputy to duty upon passage of the exams, no retroactive pay was required. Thus, the Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals and reinstated the arbitrator’s decision.
Petitioner: Kitsap County Deputy Sheriff's Guild
(Counsel: James M. Cline and Christina T. Sherman)
Respondent: Kitsap County
(Counsel: Russell D. Hauge and Jacquelyn M. Auferheide)
- Amici of Okanogan County Deputy Sheriffs and Yakima Police
- Amicus of WSAMA, Kitsap Co, and Kitsap County Sheriff
- Answer to Amicus
- Appellant Brief of Kitsap County and Kitsap County Sheriff
- Attorney General Amicus
- Joint Brief of Appellants
- Joint Reply
- Kitsap County and Kitsap Sheriff's Reply
- Kitsap Supplemental Brief
- Petition for Review
- Petitioner Supplemental Brief
- Reply to Amicus Briefs
- Statement of Additional Authority
- WACOPS Amicus
- WAPA Amicus
Argument: Thursday, January 22, 2009 9:00am
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Thursday, October 29th, 2009
Opinion: 167 Wn.2d 428 (2009)
Court: Alexander4 Court (2008-2009)
Note: We post only slip opinion(s) as published at the time of the decision. Please consult Washington Reports printed volumes for the opinion(s) in their final form. Each opinion should appear next to the Justice who authored it.