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08/25/97 JOSEPH STAHULAK v. CITY CHICAGO CHICAGO

August 25, 1997

JOSEPH STAHULAK, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
THE CITY OF CHICAGO; THE CHICAGO FIRE DEPARTMENT; AND RAYMOND E. OROZCO, FIRE COMMISSIONER OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS, AND CHICAGO FIREFIGHTERS UNION, LOCAL NO. 2, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS, AFL-CIO-CIC, DEFENDANT.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. HONORABLE EDWIN M. BERMAN, JUDGE PRESIDING.

Released for Publication October 9, 1997.

Presiding Justice Campbell delivered the opinion of the court. Buckley, J., and Gallagher, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Campbell

PRESIDING JUSTICE CAMPBELL delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendants City of Chicago (City), Chicago Fire Department (Department) and Raymond E. Orozco, Fire Commissioner of the City of Chicago (Commissioner), appeal a judgment of the circuit court of Cook County vacating an arbitration award regarding the employment of plaintiff Joseph Stahulak, issued pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the City and defendant Chicago Firefighters Union, Local No. 2, International Association of Firefighters, AFL-CIO-CIC (Union). The Union is not a party to this appeal.

The record on appeal indicates the following facts. The City and the Union are parties to a CBA that governs the terms and conditions of employment of City firefighters.

Prior to hiring Stahulak, the City had conducted a background check of his application. During September 1990, Department personnel went to the address where Stahulak was staying (apparently in Oak Lawn, Illinois) and asked where he lived. The Department informed him that he had to be a City resident. Stahulak attributed his location at that time to ongoing divorce proceedings.

The City hired Stahulak as a firefighter in December 1990. Section 9.1 of the CBA provides in part as follows:

"B. New employees will serve a probationary period of one (1) year. Any employee may be discharged during the probationary period. In such event the employee shall be notified of the reasons for the discharge at least 15 days prior to the effective date of the discharge action. A copy of the notice will be sent to the Union upon request of the Union, the Employer shall meet within 10 days of the discharge notice with a special committee to be designated by the Union to discuss the reasons for the discharge.

The employee and the Union may present evidence relating to the validity of the reasons or mitigating circumstances to the Employer at the meeting. The Employer shall then review such evidence and issue its final opinion. The Employer's final action shall not be subject to the grievance procedure."

Section 16.2 of the CBA provides as follows:

"Section 16.2 Discipline and Discharge

E. The Employer shall conduct disciplinary investigations when it receives complaints or has reason to believe an employee has failed to fulfill his responsibilities as an employee and just cause for discipline exists ***.

Prior to taking any final, disciplinary action and concluding its investigation, the Employer shall notify the employee of the contemplated measure of discipline to be imposed, and shall meet with the employee involved and inform him/her of the reasons for such contemplated disciplinary action. Copies of the following documents shall be given to the employee at this notification and review meeting:

1. Allegation of violations of Rules & Regulations

2. Statement of charges and specifications

3. Employee's initial statement ...


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