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Reginald A. Roberts v. Risa Vetri Ferman

February 17, 2011




Before the Court is Plaintiff's Petition for Injunction (Doc. 59), filed pursuant to Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff's petition requests the Court to order arbitration between Plaintiff and Defendant, Montgomery County, on the issue of Plaintiff's termination. In addition to Defendants' Response in Opposition (Doc. 62) and Plaintiff's Reply (Doc. 63), the Court has reviewed Defendants' Supplemental Brief in Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Injunctive Relief (Doc. 69), Plaintiff's Letter Brief (Doc. 75), Defendants' Second Supplemental Brief (Doc. 86), and Plaintiff's Notice to Renew (Doc. 77), which contains exhibits relevant to Plaintiff's petition. On December 3, 2010, the Court heard oral argument, during which the parties addressed Plaintiff's Rule 65 Petition. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's motion is denied.


Plaintiff, Reginald Roberts, commenced employment as a County Detective in Montgomery County on March 15, 1999. (Pl.'s First Am. Compl. ¶ 8; Defs.' Answer ¶ 8.) At all times during his employment as a County Detective, Plaintiff was party to a collective bargaining agreement (hereinafter "Agreement") between Montgomery County and the Montgomery County Detective Bureau; the Agreement was memorialized in the form of a "Memorandum of Understanding." (Defs.' Supplemental Br., Ex. A (Doc. 74).) This Agreement contained a "Grievance and Arbitration Procedure" that, as stated, applied to matters of discipline as well as to disputes involving the application or interpretation of the Agreement itself. (Id. ¶ 18(a).)

The grievance procedure consisted of the following steps:

Step #1:

A. Department Head: If the employee and his/her immediate supervisor cannot resolve a grievance informally, the employee shall send a written statement (E-mail is not acceptable nor proper) of his/her grievance to the Department Head within fifteen (15) calendar days of when the employee becomes aware of the grievance. The Department Head receiving the written grievance shall meet with the employee and their representative if so desired, within ten (10) days, and other appropriate persons in a good faith effort to resolve this grievance. The Department Head shall give the employee a written decision within ten (10) calendar days following the meeting. Step #2:

A. Row Officer: (District Attorney of Montgomery County) In the event that no satisfactory solution is reached at the first step, the employee may appeal the grievance to the District Attorney or his/her designee. Such an appeal must be made within ten (10) calendar days after the rendering of the decision as a result of the first step or after the decision at the first step should have been made. The employee shall made [sic] a written statement of his/her grievance and why the decision, if one is rendered, is wrong, and if no decision is rendered, what the employee feels the decision should be. The Row Officer or his/her designee will convene a fact finding meeting of the involved parties within fifteen (15) days of receiving and [sic] written grievance. The Row Officer or his/her designee shall then render a decision within sixty (60) calendar days, unless extended by mutual agreement for no more then [sic] thirty (30) days.

B. This is the final step of the grievance procedure and there will be no further remedy once the decision is handed down by the Row Officer or his/her designee. (Id.) Further, the Agreement contained a provision following Paragraph 19, which stated "The Memorandum of Understanding . . . shall constitute the entire Agreement between the parties and there are no verbal understandings, conditions, or stipulations aside from the terms set forth herein . . . ." (Defs.' Supplemental Br., Ex. A.)

On August 8, 2008, the County terminated Plaintiff from his position with the Detective Bureau. (Pl.'s First Am. Compl. ¶ 32; Defs.' Answer ¶ 32.) Upon his termination, Plaintiff did not attempt to file a grievance pursuant to the two-step grievance procedure outlined in the Agreement. (Pl.'s Rule 65 Pet. 6 ¶ 6.) But in October 2008, Plaintiff requested arbitration with the County on the issue of his termination. (Pl.'s Notice to Renew, Ex. 1 at 7-9.) The County subsequently notified Plaintiff of its decision to decline participation in arbitration. (Pl.'s Notice to Renew, Ex. 1 at 10.)

On October 23, 2009, Plaintiff filed this action against Montgomery County and a number of County employees alleging employment discrimination and retaliation pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. § 951, et seq. Plaintiff also alleged violations of his federal civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Pl.'s First Am. Compl. 1.)

Approximately one year after filing suit, Plaintiff filed his Rule 65 Petition, requesting that the Court order Defendant Montgomery County to arbitrate the issue of Plaintiff's termination from employment as a county detective. After considering Plaintiff's Petition, Defendants' Response, and Plaintiff's Reply, the Court ordered the parties to appear for a hearing on December 10, 2010 to address all outstanding motions, including Plaintiff's Petition. The Court subsequently amended its order on November 30, 2010, directing the parties to appear for oral argument on outstanding motions on December 3, 2010; December 10, 2010, was reserved for an evidentiary hearing on Plaintiff's Rule 65 Petition in the event that the Court found such a hearing was required.

At the December 3, 2010, oral argument, after addressing the issue of whether Plaintiff was entitled to arbitration per his Rule 65 Petition, the parties agreed to provide the Court with additional briefings on the issue of arbitration. The parties also agreed to reschedule the potential December 10, 2010, evidentiary ...

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