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National Railroad Passenger Corp. v. Fraternal Order of Police

United States District Court, D. Columbia

November 2, 2015

National Railroad Passenger Corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 189, Defendant

          For National Railroad Passenger Corporation, Plaintiff: Matthew James Sharbaugh, LEAD ATTORNEY, Thomas Edward Reinert, Jr., MORGAN, LEWIS & BOCKIUS, LLP, Washington, DC USA.

         For Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 189 Labor Committee, Defendant: Thomas A. Cushane, LEAD ATTORNEY, CUSHANE LAW FIRM, LLC, Vineland, N.J. USA.

Page 83

         MEMORANDUM OPINION

         Gladys Kessler, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff National Railroad Passenger Corporation, best known as Amtrak (" Plaintiff" or " Amtrak" ), brings this action to vacate an arbitration award under the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. § 151 et seq. (" RLA" ), and the Inspector General Act of 1978, 5 U.S.C.App. 3 § 1 et seq. (" IG Act" ). After a labor dispute between Amtrak and Defendant the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 189 (" Defendant" or " the FOP" ) involving one of the FOP's members, on March 24, 2014, an Arbitrator issued a Decision and Award in favor of the FOP. Arbitrator's Decision [Dkt. No. 22-1]. On April 22, 2014, Amtrak filed its Complaint and Petition to Vacate Arbitration Award under the Railway Labor Act [Dkt. No. 1], contending that the Arbitrator's Decision exceeded the scope of his jurisdiction and violated public policy with respect to Amtrak Inspector General investigations and Amtrak police officer discipline.[1]

         This matter is presently before the Court on Amtrak's Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt. No. 23] and the FOP's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt. No. 25]. At the heart of the Parties' Cross-Motions is a single legal question: are procedural limitations on the conduct of internal investigations contained in a collective bargaining agreement between Amtrak and the FOP binding on the Amtrak Office of Inspector General? The Court concludes that they are not. Upon consideration of the Motions, Oppositions [Dkt. Nos. 25, 27], Replies [Dkt. Nos. 27, 28], the United States' Statement of Interest [Dkt. No. 26], and the entire record

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herein, and for the reasons stated below, Amtrak's Motion for Summary Judgment shall be granted and the FOP's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment shall be denied .

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual and Procedural Background[2]

         In May of 2008, Sarah Bryant (" Bryant" ) joined the Canine Unit of the Amtrak Police Department (" APD" ).

         On September 20, 2011, the Amtrak Office of Inspector General (" OIG" ) and APD's Internal Affairs Unit received anonymous complaints that Bryant's supervisor, William Parker (" Parker" ), was assigning Bryant a disproportionate share of " surge overtime" in the Canine Unit and that Bryant and Parker jointly owned a home in Bowie, Maryland.

         On September 25, 2012, the OIG interviewed both Parker and Bryant. At the interview, Bryant was apprised of her right to remain silent in accordance with Garrity v. State of New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493, 500, 87 S.Ct. 616, 17 L.Ed.2d 562 (1967) (holding that statements obtained from police officers under threat of termination for refusal to answer could not be used in subsequent criminal proceedings). However, " [s]he was not advised of any right to [u]nion counsel and/or representation, or given Miranda rights, and her interview was not recorded in any way." Arbitrator's Decision at 5. The OIG's failure to take these three steps would prove to be critical to the Arbitrator's disposition of Bryant's case.

         On October 22, 2012, the OIG issued its report to the APD's Acting Chief of Police. The report stated that both Parker and Bryant had made false statements and omissions about their relationship and joint ownership of the Maryland home during their interviews with OIG and in previous interviews with APD Internal Affairs. The report also stated that Bryant and Parker's relationship created a conflict of interest, described various violations of Amtrak policy, and noted a likely violation of Maryland's criminal code. See Arbitrator's Decision at 5-7.[3]

         On November 19, 2012, the Acting Chief of Police issued administrative charges against Bryant. On December 3, 2012, the APD gave Bryant the opportunity to resign rather than be terminated. She declined the offer and was terminated.[4]

         On April 9, 2013, pursuant to the grievance procedure set forth in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (" CBA" ), A.R. 259-320 [Dkt. No. 22-2], between Amtrak and Bryant's union, the FOP, Bryant appealed her termination to an Arbitrator. On November 15, 2013, Arbitrator Joan Parker (no relation to William Parker) held a hearing regarding Bryant's termination, and on January 31, 2014, Amtrak and the FOP submitted post-hearing briefs.

         On March 24, 2014, the Arbitrator issued her Decision, holding that Amtrak did

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not have just cause to discharge Bryant. The Decision ordered Amtrak to reinstate Bryant to her prior position with her previous level of seniority, back pay, and retroactive payment of benefits. Arbitrator's Decision at 22.

         The Arbitrator's Decision rests entirely on the OIG's failure to: 1) advise Bryant of her right to union representation; 2) read Bryant her Miranda rights; and 3) record her interview. A section of the CBA between Amtrak and the FOB contains extensive procedures that govern internal investigations of APD officers. Arbitrator's Decision at 3-4. This section, entitled " Rule 50-Police Officers Bill of Rights," includes the following relevant provisions:

In an effort to ensure that these interrogations [of APD employees] are conducted in a manner which is conducive to good order and discipline, the following guidelines are promulgated:
. . .
2. The employee shall be advised of his [or her] right to an adjournment in order to have the Organization's [i.e., FOP's] counsel (or his [or her] designee) and/or Organization representative present.
. . .
4. If an employee is under arrest or is likely to be, that is, if he [or she] is a suspect or the target of a criminal investigation, he [or she] shall be given [their] rights pursuant to the Miranda decision.
. . .
7. The complete interrogation of the employee shall be recorded mechanically or by a stenographer. All recesses called during the questioning shall be noted. The employee or the Organization's counsel (or his [or her] designee) shall be entitled to a transcript of such ...

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