CONTRACTUALLY DELINEATED PROCESS ONLY APPLIED TO “EMPLOYEES"
Plaintiffs filed a breach of contract case against the Town of Tonawanda claiming that the latter violated the terms of the governing collective bargaining agreement when the Town failed to pay the retirees’ health insurance premiums. In response, the Town moved to dismiss the litigation, claiming that the plaintiffs were required to bring their claims via a contractually designated “grievance procedure” despite their status as retirees. And when the Erie County Supreme Court sided with the Town, and dismissed the plaintiffs’ case, an appeal followed.
On its review of the record, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, noted that the language of the grievance procedure unequivocally applied to an “employee,” who first had to file a written grievance with their department head. But, since the plaintiffs were “retired,” that procedure was not found to be applicable to them; concluding, in pertinent part, as follows:
“Inasmuch as plaintiffs were not aggrieved until after they had retired, and inasmuch as the CBAs ‘expressly limit the availability of the grievance procedure to current employees,’ we conclude that "the clear and unambiguous terms of the [CBAs]" establish that the grievance process was not available to plaintiffs at the time they became aggrieved ….”
As a result, the underlying order was reversed, and the plaintiffs’ case was reinstated.
Were these poor retirees double aggrieved here?
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