City of Bridgeport and NAGE, Local RI-200
When a collective bargaining contract bars concurrent complaints to the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities on the same subject as a grievance, a grievant can amend her CHRO complaint, to omit the subject matter of the grievance, so that the grievance will be arbitrable. On Nov. 24, 2011, the City of Bridgeport suspended the grievant, Rita Marcus, for 30 days. The union filed a grievance and, on November 30, the Office of Labor Relations denied the grievance. On Dec. 20, 2012, Marcus, who had filed a separate discrimination claim with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, amended her CHRO complaint, to omit the 30-day suspension from that complaint. Members of the collective bargaining unit are not permitted to file concurrent complaints and grievances about alleged acts of employment discrimination. The collective bargaining contract provides, "Disputes involving alleged discrimination shall not be arbitrable if the jurisdiction of the Connecticut Human Rights and Opportunities Commission or any federal or state court or agency has been invoked with respect to a claim of discrimination." The City of Bridgeport objected that the grievance was not arbitrable, because Marcus could amend her CHRO complaint in the future, to include her complaint about the 30-day suspension, or file a civil suit. The majority of arbitrators voted, 2-1, that the grievance was arbitrable. "[I]t would be an abuse of our discretion," wrote the majority, "to rule that the grievance in this matter [is] not arbitrable when the amendment filed by the Grievant clearly indicates that she is no longer invoking the jurisdiction of the CHRO at this time." William Ruggiero represented the municipality, and Elizabeth Ditman represented the union.