TOWN OF STRATFORD v. AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES, COUNCIL 15, LOCAL 407, SC 19130

Judicial District of Fairfield

 

     Arbitration; Employment; Whether There is a Clearly Discernable Public Policy Against Intentional Dishonesty by Police Officers in Connection with Their Employment.  After Stratford police officer Justin Loschiavo suffered an epileptic seizure that caused him to lose control of his police vehicle and crash, the town required him to undergo a medical examination to determine his fitness to return to duty.  During the examination, Loschiavo failed to disclose and misrepresented certain facts that might have impacted the fitness determination.  The town fired Loschiavo on learning of his dishonest conduct.  Loschiavo’s union filed a grievance on his behalf, and an arbitration panel sustained the grievance and ordered his reinstatement, finding that the penalty of termination was excessive.  The town sought to vacate the arbitration award, arguing that an arbitration award encouraging dishonesty in a police officer violates a clear public policy in Connecticut against lying by police officers.  The trial court denied the town’s application to vacate, ruling that there was no clearly defined public policy requiring the dismissal of an officer for lying.  The town appealed from that decision.  The Appellate Court (140 Conn. App. 587) determined that, under Connecticut common law as evidenced by several Superior Court decisions, there exists a clearly discernable public policy against intentional dishonesty by police officers in connection with their employment.  It concluded that the arbitrators’ decision to reinstate Loschiavo was contrary to that well-defined public policy and therefore could not stand.  Accordingly, the court reversed the trial court’s judgment and remanded with direction to grant the town’s application to vacate the arbitration award.  The Supreme Court will now decide whether the Appellate Court properly determined that the arbitration award reinstating Loschiavo violated a clearly discernable public policy against intentional dishonesty by police officers in connection with their employment which mandated Loschiavo’s dismissal.