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Can an employee terminable at will receive for-cause termination protection?

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This dispute over the secretary’s termination was not arbitrable because the CBA was unenforceable to the extent that it granted for-cause termination protection to certain exempt employees, the court explained.

A CBA could not provide for-cause termination protections to exempt employees, the court decided. It supported this decision with the statutory framework, the criteria for exempting positions, and relevant policy concerns.

The court noted that the legislature intended to closely guard exempt positions. The legislature clearly excluded exempt employees from the removal and disciplinary protection scheme in sections 75 and 76 of the Civil Service Law, which provided that these employees had no expectation or right to such tenure protections, the court said.

“The statute designates only a handful of such positions, permits civil service commissions to classify positions as exempt only where examination is impractical, and requires a civil service commission to review each exempt position upon vacancy to determine ‘whether such position, as then constituted, is properly classified in the exempt class,’” wrote Judge Michael Garcia for the court.

Lastly, the court found that public policy also weighed against enforcing the CBA’s for-cause termination protections.

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