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Washington Hospital v. Seiu Healthcare Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

August 20, 2014

THE WASHINGTON HOSPITAL, Plaintiffs,
v.
SEIU HEALTHCARE INC. PENNSYLVANIA, Defendant.

OPINION

MAURICE B. COHILL, Jr., Senior District Judge.

This case is before this Court as a result of a decision by an arbitrator which was adverse to the Plaintiff Hospital and in favor of Defendant, SEIU Healthcare Inc. Pennsylvania, the Union representing Deborah Holden an employee of the Hospital. The Hospital here seeks to overturn the Arbitrator's decision.

The case started along the usual pretrial procedural path; Ms. Holden had been terminated by the Hospital for missing excessive work days in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") [ECF No. 1-2], which provided for termination of an employee if she had ten or more "occurrences" of absenteeism within a specified period of time [ECF No. 1-2].

Appendix "I", Section II.B ("Definitions") of the CBA defines occurrences as "one or more consecutive days in which an employee is absent from his or her scheduled work, inclusive of scheduled days off." In addition, Appendix "I" Section III of the CBA ("Progressive Discipline for Occurrences") details the progressive steps taken if an employee is chronically absent. The CBA dictates that after eight occurrences an employee is to receive a written. warning; after nine a "Final Written Warning", and Termination upon ten (10) or more occurrences.

We scheduled the 26(f) conference which occurred on March 19, 2014 with all counsel present. At the conference counsel for the Hospital stated that the Hospital had recently become aware that Ms. Holden had been awarded disability benefits by the Social Security Administration, and the Hospital wanted to amend its 26(f) Report to add witnesses and have a period of discovery "in order to determine if Ms. Holden committed a fraud through her testimony at the Arbitration hearing and, as such, her testimony should be disregarded." [ECF No. 14 at ¶ 9] The Hospital filed a Motion to Amend/Correct the 26(f) Report to Include Time for Discovery and Amendment of the Complaint [ECF No. 14].

The Hospital's request added a new dimension to the case. The original Complaint sought to have the Court overrule the Arbitrator's decision because the Arbitrator's award allegedly failed to "draw its essence from the parties CBA and [his decision was] unsupported by the record, the established past practice of the parties, or applicable case law and statute." [ECF No. 1 at ¶ 29] The latest filing seeks to have us allow additional discovery and potentially set aside the award on the grounds of false testimony by Ms. Holden. We will briefly address the Hospital's argument regarding Ms. Holden's alleged fraud on the tribunal. Namely, the Hospital asserts that Ms. Holden withheld crucial information regarding her determination as disabled on March 1, 2013 by the Social Security Administration during the Arbitration hearing on June 28, 2013. Defendant further argues that Ms. Holden's alleged untruthfulness discredits her as a witness and her testimony in its entirety thereby causing the hearing to be disregarded.

We carefully reviewed the transcript of Ms. Holden's testimony at the Arbitration Hearing. The transcript shows the following dialog between Ms. Holden and Counsel for the Hospital:

Q: Now, are you presently working?
A: No, I'm not.
Q: Is there a reason you're not working at the present time?
A: I am currently collecting unemployment and I am looking for other employment. I just have not found the right job.
Q: You're not representing that you're incapable of working?
A: No, I am not.
Q: You just have not ...

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