19:0242(27)AR - VA Medical Center, Cleveland, OH and AFGE Local No. 31 -- 1985 FLRAdec AR
[ v19 p242 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
19 FLRA No. 27 VETERANS ADMINISTRATION MEDICAL CENTER, CLEVELAND, OHIO Activity and AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, LOCAL NO. 31 Union Case No. O-AR-900 DECISION This matter is before the Authority on exceptions to the award of Arbitrator Roland Strasshofer, Jr. filed by the Agency and the Union /1/ under section 7122(a) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute and part 2425 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations. A grievance was filed and submitted to arbitration essentially contending that the Activity violated the parties' collective bargaining agreement when it failed to select the grievant for promotion. The Arbitrator essentially denied the grievance on the merits, but in paragraph 5 of the award ordered as follows: 5. The Center violated Article 14, Section 2, B, and caused the unnecessary continuation of the hearing on July 20, 1984, without good cause; and is therefore ordered to pay the Union the sum of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) in damages, said sum to accrue interest at the rate of fourteen percent (14%) per annum if not paid within 30 days from the date of this award. As one of its exceptions, the Agency contends that the award of $1000 in damages is contrary to law as an award of punitive damages. The Authority agrees. It is well established that an award of punitive damages is not authorized by law against the Federal Government. Missouri Pacific Railroad Co. v. Ault, 256 U.S. 554 (1921); Painter v. Tennessee Valley Authority, 476 F.2d 943 (5th Cir. 1973); Littleton v. Vitro Corporation of America, 130 F.Supp. 774 (N.D. Ala. 1955); 55 Comp.Gen. 564 (1975). In terms of this case, the award of $1000 in damages is in no manner compensatory, but rather is clearly punitive. Consequently, this portion of the award is deficient as contrary to law, and accordingly, the award is modified by striking paragraph 5. /2/ Issued, Washington, D.C., July 22, 1985 Henry B. Frazier III, Acting Chairman William J. McGinnis, Jr., Member FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY --------------- FOOTNOTES$ --------------- /1/ The Union's exception was untimely and accordingly is dismissed. /2/ In view of this decision, it is not necessary that the Authority address the Agency's other exceptions to this portion of the award including the exception that the award of interest was contrary to law. In this regard, however, the Authority notes the settled rule that an award of interest is generally proscribed. See Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Federal Employee Metal Trades Council, 7 FLRA 30 (1981).