Monday, July 16, 2001
Appeals Court Rejects Demoted LAPD Officer’s Request for Arbitration
By a MetNews Staff Writer
An effort to compel the Los Angeles Police Department to arbitrate a demoted officer’s grievance has been rejected by this district’s Court of Appeal, which said the officer and his union failed to follow proper procedures.
In a July 2 unpublished opinion obtained Friday by the MetNews, Justice Roger Boren of Div. Two said Officer Fernando Lopez and the Police Protective League had no right under the union’s memorandum of understanding to a grievance and arbitration and instead should have pursued an administrative appeal.
Lopez’s forced transfer out of the now-defunct Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums unit was a disciplinary action and as such was not subject to grievance proceedings, Boren said.
The ruling is the latest action arising out of Lopez’s June 5, 1999, arrest at a Long Beach bar.
Long Beach officers responded to a disturbance call at a Pine Street watering hole and arrested Lopez’s companion, LAPD officer Michelle Diaz for public intoxication.
Lopez reportedly tried to intervene, and was himself arrested on misdemeanor charges for interfering with a police officer and interfering with a custody.
Both LAPD officers were off-duty at the time.
On the recommendation of his supervisor, Lopez was reduced in grade and pay from Police Officer III to Police Officer II, and reassigned from the anti-gang CRASH unit.
He filed a formal grievance, saying the demotion was improper and came without a clear showing that his off-duty conduct prevented him from performing his previous duties. He also charged that the LAPD failed to conduct a full investigation and disciplined him without a due process hearing.
When the grievance did not go his way, Lopez appealed it to the police chief and the Police Commission. The chief responded that the complaints were not subject to grievance, and Lopez and the union filed a request to arbitrate.
The LAPD declined, Lopez and the union sued, and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Horowitz found the arbitration request untimely.
Horowitz was right, Boren said.
“Even assuming that a disciplinary transfer made by the LAPD is subject to the grievance procedures contained in Section 8 of the MOU, appellant is still not entitled to arbitration because it failed to properly follow the grievance procedures,” Boren said.
Under the MOU, he said, Lopez should have first engaged in a discussion with his supervisor within 15 days, but he brought it up five days late. Second, he should have served notice of a formal grievance on the LAPD, and third, the police chief should have reviewed the matter and responded in writing. Only if the chief failed to act, or if Lopez wanted to appeal the chief’s decision, should the matter have gone to the commission, Boren said.
Step five is arbitration.
Boren said Lopez jumped from Step three to step five.
The case is Los Angeles Police Protective League v. City of Los Angeles, B144587.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company