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Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Inc. v. 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 3, 2014

SINAI HOSPITAL OF BALTIMORE, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
1199 SEIU UNITED HEALTHCARE WORKERS EAST, Defendant

For Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Inc., Plaintiff: Cyril Vincent Smith, III, Daniel P Moylan, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, Baltimore, MD.

For 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Defendant: Stephen W Godoff, LEAD ATTORNEY, Heather Heilman, Abato Rubenstein and Abato PA, Baltimore, MD.

OPINION

Page 441

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Richard D. Bennett, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Inc. (" Sinai" ) has filed this action against Defendant 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East (" the Union" ) under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185, seeking vacatur of an arbitration award in favor of the Union. Currently pending before this Court is the Union's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment (" Motion for Summary Judgment" ) (ECF No. 8). On October 20, 2014, this Court held a hearing on the pending motion (ECF No. 21). For the reasons that follow, Defendant Union's Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment,[1] (ECF No. 8) is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, this Court reviews the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007); see also Hardwick ex rel. Hardwick v. Heyward, 711 F.3d 426, 433 (4th Cir. 2013).

Plaintiff Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation organized under Maryland law and operating in Maryland. Compl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 1. The arbitration award at issue stems from the termination of an employee of Sinai, Dennis Day (" Mr. Day" ). Id. at ¶ ¶ 11-15. Mr. Day, a twenty-four year employee of Sinai, is represented by Defendant Union. Compl. Ex. 1, 3, ECF No. 1-3. Under

Page 442

Section 3.1 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Union and Sinai (" the CBA" ), Sinai retained authority to implement policies, regulations, and other rules governing a broad range of subjects, from " patient care, research, [and] education," to employee conduct and discipline " for cause." Compl. Ex. 2, 9, ECF No. 1-4. Under this authority, Sinai promulgated a " Workplace Violence Policy" that stipulates the various actions that qualify as " workplace violence." [2] Compl. Ex. 3, 1, ECF No. 1-5. If an employee commits any of these actions, he is " subject to corrective action or discipline, most often resulting in termination of employment." Id. at 2.

On March 28, 2012, Mr. Day allegedly made threatening remarks directed at his supervisor, Paul DiPino (" Mr. DiPino" ).[3] Compl. Ex. 1, 2, ECF No. 1-3. Mr. DiPino and another Sinai employee, Halla Ingvars (" Ms. Ingvars" ) overheard the alleged threats[4] over a VOCERA communications device worn by Mr. Day. Id. at 5. Mr. Day, who was at lunch with his colleagues, was unaware that the VOCERA device had been activated. Id. at 5-6. Although Mr. DiPino was not alarmed by the comments, Ms. Ingvars found them to be threatening. Id. at 6. She therefore reported the alleged threats to a supervisor and Sinai commenced an investigation of the incident. Id.

During the course of the investigation, Roger Sheets (" Mr. Sheets" ), Sinai's Corporate Security Director, took written statements from Mr. DiPino and Ms. Ingvars. Id. Mr. Sheets also interviewed Mr. Day and his lunch companions, but did not ask them to submit written statements. Id. at 7. He then inspected Mr. Day's locker, to which Mr. Day had affixed a personal lock, in violation of Sinai policy. Id. Mr. Day's locker was filled with " clutter." Id. During the course of removing the " clutter" from the locker, Mr. Sheets discovered a knife with a five-inch blade. Id. On the basis of Mr. Day's possession of this knife and the alleged threats directed toward Mr. DiPino, Sinai found that Mr. Day had violated the Workplace Violence Policy and thus terminated Mr. Day on April 2, 2012.[5] Id. at 8.

Page 443

After his discharge, the Union filed a grievance on behalf of Mr. Day to challenge Sinai's decision. Compl. ¶ 12. The parties failed to reach a resolution under the CBA-prescribed procedures, thus they submitted their dispute for arbitration. Id. at ¶ 13. The assigned arbitrator conducted hearings and reviewed the parties' arbitration briefs before reaching the conclusion that Sinai did not have " just cause" for terminating Mr. Day. Compl. Ex. 1, at 2, 22. The arbitrator thereby ordered Sinai to " reinstate[] [Mr. Day] to his former position and pa[y] back pay up to and including April 8, 2013 and after September 23, 2013." Id. at 1.

Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant shortly after the arbitrator rendered his arbitration award. See Pl.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Vacate Labor Arbitration Award, 1-2 n.2, ECF No. 1-2. In its Complaint and accompanying Motion, Sinai asks this Court to vacate the arbitration award and remand to the arbitrator to address alleged fundamental flaws. Compl. ¶ 16. Specifically, Plaintiff contends that he ignored critical provisions of the parties' CBA and Sinai's Workplace Violence Policy. See Pl.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Vacate Labor Arbitration Award, at 1. Given ...


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