The Connecticut Supreme Court has upheld an arbitrator’s award reinstating a police officer who lied to a neurologist about his medical history during an independent medical examination. Town of Stratford v. AFSCME, Council 15, Local 407 (CT Sup.Ct., official release date of December 23, 2014).
The police officer had a seizure while operating a police car and stuck two parked cars. During an IME soon after the accident, the police officer failed to tell a neurologist about two prior seizures and his use or abuse of alcohol.
The Town terminated the officer’s employment because he had “violated department policy by lying during the independent medical examination.” The union challenged the termination and the arbitrator reinstated the officer without any back pay for the nine months between the termination and the arbitrator’s award. The Town sought to vacate the award, arguing that the award violated the public policy against lying by law enforcement personnel. The trial court rejected the Town’s argument but the Appellate Court reversed and vacated the award.
The Connecticut Supreme Court reinstated the award, holding that while there is a public policy against intentional dishonesty by police officers, the award itself did not violate public policy. The police officer’s dishonesty was not so “egregious that it requires nothing less than the termination of his employment so as not to violate public policy,” the court concluded.