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Rutherford v. Rutherford PBA Local 300

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

August 27, 2013

BOROUGH OF RUTHERFORD, Plaintiff-Respondent/ Cross-Appellant,
v.
RUTHERFORD PBA LOCAL 300, Defendant-Appellant/ Cross-Respondent.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued April 10, 2013

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Bergen County, Docket No. C-253-11.

Michael A. Bukosky argued the cause for appellant/cross-respondent (Loccke, Correia, Limsky & Bukosky, attorneys; Marcia J. Tapia, of counsel and on the briefs).

David M. LaPorta argued the cause for respondent/cross-appellant (LaPorta & LaPorta, LLC, attorneys; Mr. LaPorta and Justin D. Santagata, on the briefs).

Before Judges Simonelli and Accurso.

PER CURIAM

Defendant Rutherford PBA Local 300 (the PBA) appeals from a January 12, 2012 final order of the Chancery Division confirming, in part, and vacating, in part, an arbitration award entered in a grievance arbitration before the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC). Plaintiff Borough of Rutherford (Borough) cross-appealed. We affirm.

This appeal arises from the Borough's implementation of a police department sick leave policy for the weekend of September 25 and 26, 2010. On that weekend, the officer in charge of the Borough's police department, Lieutenant Harold Ciser, posted an order advising that "Anyone calling in sick will bring in a doctor's note, when causing O[ver] T[ime]."[1] On Saturday, September 25, Patrolman Robert Buell left duty due to seasonal allergies and Ciser advised Buell that he would need a doctor's note before returning to work. Buell procured a note from First Care Medical Center, the Borough's authorized health care provider, and presented it and the First Care invoice to the department on returning to work.

On September 26, 2010, the PBA, the exclusive collective bargaining representative for all full-time law enforcement personnel employed by the Borough, filed a grievance "concerning Brother Robert Buell being ordered to provide a doctor's note before returning to work, after going home sick on September 25, 2010." The grievance was denied by the Borough through the three steps of the parties' grievance process. The parties agree that at no time during the internal grievance process was payment of the First Care invoice ever part of the grievance.

The PBA subsequently filed a petition for grievance arbitration before PERC, limited to the Borough's implementation of the sick leave policy with Buell. Thereafter, on November 4, 2010, counsel for the PBA wrote to the Borough business administrator demanding that the Borough negotiate the changes in sick leave policy, including impact negotiations regarding payment of any expenses the officers might incur in obtaining a doctor's note. Specifically, the PBA sought to address seventeen enumerated "impact matters."

1. Payment for any expenses incurred in obtaining a sick note.
2. Payment for all time spent obtaining a sick note. (The PBA demands ...

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