Key Points

  • The majority of collective bargaining agreements require a union employee to be terminated "for cause" despite being an "at-will" employee. The concept of "just cause" is generally described as reasonable under circumstances, not offending notions of fairness and not unduly harsh or arbitrary.
  • In order to terminate a union employee, employers must be extremely careful to comply with each and every procedural requirement as set forth in the grievance procedure in the collective bargaining agreement. Such procedural requirements normally include service of notice to the employee and union of the employer's intention to terminate him or her, presentation of facts that suggest that the employee has failed to correct his or her conduct despite having been given progressive forms of discipline, and opportunity to be heard and provide his or her version of events.
  • An employee may appeal his or her termination to binding arbitration. At this stage, an arbitrator's decision is final. If the arbitrator finds in favor of the terminated employee, the employer may be compelled to provide backpay to the employee.

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