Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Chacon Baseball Arbitration

Mlblogo So can you be fired for grabbing your boss by the neck and pushing him to the ground?   Well, if you're a MLB baseball player the answer is it probably depends. Here is the background (via ESPN):

The players' association filed a grievance Tuesday over the release of pitcher Shawn Chacon, saying the team's decision to terminate his contract was without just cause.

Chacon cleared waivers and was released Monday, five days after a physical altercation with Houston Astros general manager Ed Wade in the clubhouse.

Chacon had a $2 million salary this year, and the decision to terminate the contract meant $983,607 won't be paid. He also lost the chance to make up to $1 million in performance bonuses based on innings . . . .

The union alleged Chacon was disciplined without just cause under the collective bargaining agreement and terminated without just cause under the uniform player contract.

The 30-year-old pitcher was suspended after shoving Wade to the floor before the Astros played Texas last Wednesday. Wade said he had asked Chacon to come into manager Cecil Cooper's office for a meeting. Chacon refused, and the confrontation ensued.

The Astros said Chacon violated a provision in the UPC that states the player may be terminated if he shall "fail, refuse, or neglect to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship and good sportsmanship or to keep himself in first-class physical condition or to obey to the club's training rules."

So, here's the deal. If the union can reasonably believe Chacon's side of the story, they have a duty of fair representation to pursue his grievance. More than that, the arbitration will come down to how the arbitrator interprets the above language and whose side of the story he believes after hearing all the evidence.

Although I would be surprised if he was reinstated, much stranger outcomes have resulted from labor arbitrations.

PS

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/laborprof_blog/2008/07/chacon-baseball.html

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Comments

"So, here's the deal. If the union can reasonably believe Chacon's side of the story, they have a duty of fair representation to pursue his grievance."

One technical correction on the DFR, Paul. The duty to pursue his grievance doesn't arise merely because the union "can reasonably believe" him. If the union DOES believe him, it has a duty to represent him without hostile discrimination, etc. (although that doesn't necessarily mean it has to go all the way to arbitration). That distinction is one of the main points in Vaca v. Sipes.

Posted by: Dennis Nolan | Jul 2, 2008 8:37:07 AM

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