Abbott Nicholson Attorneys Prevail Before the Michigan Court of Appeals in Case Interpreting the Scope of Management Rights Provision in Labor Contracts

Posted Oct. 26th 2021

The labor contracts governing the terms and conditions of employment for command and non-command staff of the Berrien County Sheriff’s office provide for the use of compensatory time in lieu of overtime pay and contain caps on the accrual of compensatory time. In 2019, the Sheriff notified staff that usage of compensatory time would be capped at 80 hours per year. The Union filed several grievances challenging the Sheriff’s directives capping usage of compensatory time. The County and Sheriff challenged the arbitrability of these grievances, taking the position that issuance of the Sheriff’s directives regarding usage of compensatory time was solely a matter of reserved management rights under the labor contracts, rendering the grievances non-arbitrable. The Berrien County Circuit Court agreed and granted summary disposition for the County and Sheriff.  The Union appealed, and the Court of Appeals recently affirmed the grant of summary disposition for the County and the Sheriff.

This decision is an important reminder always to analyze the scope of the applicable management rights clause and determine if a challenge to the arbitrability of a grievance is appropriate before proceeding with the grievance arbitration process.

The full opinion can be found by clicking here.