Five months after an arbitrator ruled that a former Algonquin Township road district employee was improperly fired, he still has not been reinstated to his position, leading an arbitrator to grant him a supplemental arbitration award.
Dan Morrison, a former heavy equipment operator, was fired on Jan. 11, 2019, after Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser said Morrison violated the road district’s smoking policy.
In response, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 filed a grievance saying Gasser did not have just cause to terminate Morrison.
On Nov. 4, Arbitrator Dennis P. McGilligan wrote that the union’s grievance is sustained, and that the reinstatement of his job with a written warning would be appropriate for Morrison.
However, the union filed a motion to initiate supplemental proceedings on Dec. 5 as Morrison still had not been reinstated at that time.
The purpose of these supplemental proceedings were to assist the parties in implementing the arbitration award; to amend the arbitration award so Morrison could be “made whole” for Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund service credits; to compute post-judgment interests; extend the arbitrator’s jurisdiction over the matter; and provide any other appropriate relief, according to a document obtained by the Northwest Herald.
On Jan. 2, Bryan Diemer, the attorney representing Local 150, sent the arbitrator an email that included, among other attachments, a draft supplemental award. In the draft supplemental arbitration award, the union proposed reinstating Morrison to his former position, including back pay and all contractual benefits Morrison would have earned if he was not fired.
As of Jan.1, the union said, Morrison is entitled to $37,608.53 in back pay, which includes an offset of $17,901.28 for interim earnings. In addition, he also is entitled to $500 for on-call pay, 15 vacation days, five personal days, 14 sick days, $500 for work clothes and $600 for a cellphone stipend.
The union also proposed that Morrison is entitled to IMRF service credits dating back to January 2019, until he is reinstated.
In its draft supplemental arbitration award, the union asked that damages, such as back pay, pension and other contractual benefits, should continue to accrue until Morrison is rehired.
That same day, the arbitrator sent an email to both Hanlon and Diemer, saying that if he did receive a response from Hanlon within 10 days, he would issue a supplemental arbitration award, granting all of the union’s requests in their Jan. 2 letter.
Robert Hanlon, the attorney representing the road district, did not respond to this letter, or subsequent communications from the arbitrator or Diemer, except to say on Feb. 3 that he had been “out ill” and would be back to work in the morning. However, the arbitrator did not receive a response from Hanlon on Feb. 4, and on Feb. 5 McGilligan sent another email telling the attorney that he would grant the union’s request if he did not respond in a week. There was again no reply from Hanlon.
McGilligan, the arbitrator, then granted the union’s motion to initiate supplemental proceedings, and retained jurisdiction “indefinitely” solely for the limited purpose of resolving all remedial issues.
Hanlon did not return a message seeking comment on Wednesday.
Diemer said they have sent demand letters to opposing counsel, outlining what they felt the damages were, which were just ignored, so they brought the matter back in front of the arbitrator.
Although it is “highly unusual” to go to an arbitrator to decide back pay, in this case, Diemer said, this was a step they needed to take.
Diemer said the next step will be to go to the Circuit Court, and seek help from the judge to get the reinstatement back, “at tremendous expense for both parties.”
“It’s an unfortunate circumstance,” Diemer said.