Synopsis By: Lurie - Proceeding Author: Daniel G. Collins, Linda Lamkin, Thomas R. Miller, Susan M. Oliver

A discussion of whether, in assessing the appropriateness of discipline or discharge, arbitrators should take into account “distractions” (such as the employee’s marital, family, financial or legal problems) that cause misconduct or unsatisfactory job performance. Arbitral treatment of alcoholic, drug-addicted, and mentally ill employees is examined. Observations are drawn from cases reported in volumes 70 through 84 of BNA Labor Arbitration Reports. The management viewpoint (of American Airlines) is presented: that the just cause standard should not be compromised in such cases, but that such employees should be furnished assistance. Relevant arbitration and court decision are surveyed, some addressing whether an arbitration decision comports with public policy regarding safety. The union viewpoint is presented: that there above factors, as well as changes in demographics and the demands of the workplace, may be mitigating factors that should contribute to the expansion of the definition of just cause.