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Portage County Board of Developmental Disabilities v. Portage County Educators Association

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Portage

March 26, 2018

PORTAGE COUNTY BOARD OF DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
PORTAGE COUNTY EDUCATORS ASSOCIATION FOR DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES, Defendant-Appellee.

          Civil Appeal from the Portage County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2016 CV 00470.

          Ronald J. Habowski, For Plaintiff-Appellant.

          Ira J. Mirkin and Danielle L Murphy, Green, Haines & Sgambati Co., L.P.A. For Defendant-Appellee.

          OPINION

          CYNTHIA WESTCOTT RICE, J.

         {¶1} Appellant, the Portage County Board of Developmental Disabilities ("Board"), appeals from the judgment of the Portage County Court of Common Pleas, upholding the arbitrator's decision in favor of appellee, the Portage County Educators Association for Developmental Disabilities ("Association"). At issue is whether the arbitrator exceeded his authority in finding the language in an employer/employee agreement to be ambiguous thereby requiring consideration of extrinsic evidence of the practices of other employees in the office. We hold the trial court did not err.

         {¶2} Jennifer Conwell was an employee of the Board, working as a registered service specialist. Following a history of discipline, the Board, Conwell, and the Association, as Conwell's union representative, entered a Last Chance Employment Agreement, on September 8, 2014.

         {¶3} As set forth in the agreement, Conwell had three verbal and three written reprimands from October 2009 to February 2013 for tardiness and "lack of sufficient accrued sick leave." She was suspended for three days in 2014 for continued attendance problems. Due to these concerns, the agreement was entered "as a condition of continuing employment."

         {¶4} The agreement stated that Conwell's "continued employment is dependent upon her meeting certain conditions * * * (as described below)" and that failure to meet these conditions would "result in immediate termination of employment." Pertinent terms included:

         {¶5} "C. Employee will check in using the computer kiosk by no later than 8:05 a.m. each workday * * *

         {¶6} "D. Employee will have no more than five (5) occurrences of arriving late for work (i.e. checking in later than 8:05 a.m. and/or failing to check in on the kiosk) and/or leaving work early without permission or approval during any "rolling" six month period * * *

         {¶7} "* * *

         {¶8} "G. There will be no future instances of false or erroneous documentation."

         {¶9} The Agreement further provided:

         {¶10} "Employer may immediately terminate Employee's employment for violations of this Agreement. The Union and Employee waive the right to challenge through the grievance procedure or other means any termination or other discipline imposed under the terms of this Agreement, unless otherwise provided for in law, except Employee may challenge through the ...


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