Okla. Appeals Court Rules in Mustang's Favor in Employee's Suit

Article excerpt

The city of Mustang narrowly avoided being forced into arbitration over one employee's displeasure with his performance evaluation, in a case decided by the state Court of Civil Appeals last week.

The court found an employer cannot exclude performance evaluations and merit pay decisions from the matters addressed by a collective bargaining agreement with a labor union. However, such agreements may provide more than one remedy for such disputes.

Dennis Craig, a lieutenant in the Mustang Police Department and a member of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 163, attempted to force the city into arbitration over his 2006 annual employee evaluation, in which he received a below-standard rating in five areas of performance. Craig sought an amendment of his evaluation to reflect a higher rating in five areas and a merit-pay increase commensurate with the higher ratings.

Craig termed the dispute as a "major/contractual grievance" and pursued arbitration. The city obtained a temporary injunction from the District Court of Canadian County preventing Craig and the FOP from pursuing arbitration in the matter.

The Court of Civil Appeals disagreed with the city's assertion that performance evaluations and merit pay decisions were excluded from the collective bargaining agreement. …