of Transportation regulations that he would be fired if he did not proceed immediately. The specific language to which Advance referred stated: "Employees subject to random alcohol testing shall be tested within one (1) hour prior to starting the tour of duty, during the tour of duty, or immediately after completing the tour of duty." The Arbitrator found that Coleman might have reasonably believed that he could proceed to the clinic after completing his tour of duty.
The applicable Department of Transportation regulation reads, "Each employer shall require that each driver who is notified of selection for random alcohol and/or controlled substances testing proceeds to the test site immediately. . . ." The Arbitrator held it "abundantly clear" from the regulation that Advance, rather than employees themselves, has a duty to insure immediate testing. He found that the record did not support a finding that Advance had met its duty or that it made the immediacy requirement clear to Coleman. As such, the Arbitrator found that Coleman did not knowingly violate the regulations.
Finally, Advance argued that reinstating Coleman to a safety-sensitive position without further testing and counseling would violate other Department of Transportation regulations because Coleman had refused a random drug test. As the Arbitrator found that Coleman made no such refusal (Coleman did eventually report for testing), the Arbitrator found no violation of regulations in the reinstatement.
For the foregoing reasons, the Arbitrator concluded that Advance did not terminate Coleman for just cause. As a remedy, the Arbitrator directed Advance to reinstate Coleman with benefits and with backpay from the date of termination to the date of reinstatement.
The standard of review is of such importance to the outcome of this case that restatement of the standard is appropriate: the court will vacate the arbitration award only if it does not draw its essence from the CBA. The court will not vacate an award where it contains an honest decision after a full and fair hearing, even if it contains factual or legal errors. Ethyl Corp. v. United Steelworkers, 768 F.2d 180, 183 (7th Cir. 1985).
In the instant case, the award draws its essence from the CBA. Advance terminated Coleman without prior warning. In reaching his decision, the Arbitrator interpreted the term "just cause" as it applies to termination without prior warning. Advance stated that it terminated Coleman without prior warning because he refused to submit to testing immediately. Had Coleman so refused, he would have been subject to discharge without prior warning pursuant to the provisions of the CBA.
However, the Arbitrator found that Coleman had not refused to submit to testing. In so finding, the Arbitrator read into the CBA's "just cause" provision a requirement that an employee know of a rule before the employee may be terminated for violating that rule. He stated that an employee cannot "refuse" to follow a rule of which the employee is not aware. Because the Arbitrator found that Coleman did not know that he was obligated to proceed immediately to the clinic, or that he was obligated to follow Oesterreicher's orders, the Arbitrator found that Coleman did not "refuse" testing. As such, the Arbitrator found that Advance could not terminate him without prior warning under the terms of the CBA. Accordingly, the Arbitrator ordered Advance to reinstate Coleman.
The Arbitrator's interpretation of the CBA's "just cause" provision was not illogical. The concept of just cause is flexible: it embodies the notions of equity and fairness, and remains open to the interpretations of arbitrators. Arch of Ill., Div. of Apogee Coal Corp. v. District 12, United Mine Workers of Am., 85 F.3d 1289, 1294 (7th Cir. 1996). The court finds reasonable the Arbitrator's requirement of knowledge for just cause termination based on refusal.
Nevertheless, Advance argues that enforcement of the arbitration award would run contrary to public policy, in that it would punish Advance for following CBA requirements and Department of Transportation regulations. Advance contends that it merely followed the CBA and Department of Transportation regulations when it fired Coleman for refusal to submit to testing.
The court recognizes the significant public policy at stake. However, this contention overlooks the Arbitrator's finding that Coleman did not "refuse" testing. The Department of Transportation regulations place upon Advance the obligation of making employees aware of the immediacy requirement. The Arbitrator found that Advance failed to do so. This court should not substitute its findings for those of the Arbitrator, who heard the witnesses and viewed the evidence at the hearing.
Also, Advance argues that its offer of conditional reinstatement followed the applicable regulations, because employees who have refused testing cannot be reinstated without drug/alcohol counseling and further testing. Again, the Arbitrator found that Coleman did not refuse testing, and, as such, that no counseling or further testing was necessary. The court will not disturb those factual findings, which draw their essence from the CBA. Accordingly, the arbitration award must be upheld.
The court notes the significant public policy issues which create a need for effective random drug testing. Such testing is intended to deter drug and alcohol use among workers who hold public safety in their hands. Immediacy is vital to this deterrence. Employers must ensure that their workers proceed immediately to clinics for testing. Employees must comply or be terminated. In the instant case, any deterrent effect was lost because of Coleman's ignorance of the immediacy requirement.
This court cannot say, given the standard of review, that the Arbitrator's decision was not honest, or that it was not based upon a full and fair hearing. For the foregoing reasons, Local 710's motion for summary judgment is granted; Advance's motion for summary judgment is denied.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
CHARLES RONALD NORGLE, SR., Judge
United States District Court