Alaska v. Public Safety Employees AssociationAnnotate this Case
An Alaska state trooper was discharged for having consensual sex with a domestic violence victim the morning after assisting in the arrest of the victim's husband. The Public Safety Employees Association (PSEA) filed a grievance under its collective bargaining agreement with the State. An arbitrator ordered that the trooper be reinstated with back pay after a three-day suspension, concluding that the State did not have just cause to discharge the trooper. The superior court upheld the arbitrator's order of back pay but decided that it could not enforce the ordered reinstatement because the Alaska Police Standards Council had by this point revoked the trooper's police certificate. The State appealed, arguing that the arbitrator committed gross error and that the order was unenforceable as a violation of public policy. The Supreme Court "generally will not disturb the results of a binding arbitration, even where [it] would reach a different conclusion were we to review the matter independently." The Court reasoned that because no statute, regulation, or written policy prohibited supervisors from engaging in progressive discipline of the trooper, in lieu of discharging him for his misconduct, the arbitrator's decision to impose discipline rather than uphold the termination did not violate any explicit, well-defined, and dominant public policy. Because the arbitrator's award was neither unenforceable nor grossly erroneous, the Court affirmed the superior court's decision to uphold the arbitration award in part.