From New York:
Question: I have a union member that took a voluntary demotion due to some misconduct. The settlement agreement which was signed does not indicate a deduction or reduced pay, it just states the member will be demoted from sergeant to deputy. The County failed to reduce the member’s pay when the demotion happened about six months ago. The County has now changed the member’s pay to deputy pay and is requesting the member pay the money back. I am looking for some case law if there is any related to this topic. Does a demotion in rank also include pay reduction or must the pay portion need to be negotiated?
Answer: Part of your question will require the advice of local counsel. Many states have statutes that forbid an employer unilaterally recouping overpayments from an employee, instead obligating the employer to seek relief in court. We don’t know whether New York has such a statute.
As to the settlement agreement, we don’t know of a case addressing the precise fact situation you’ve laid out. The types of agreement you’re describing normally is quite specific as to rank and pay step after demotion. The situation seems ripe for the employer and union to meet to attempt to resolve all questions concerning the demotion. Our hunch is that if the matter ends up with an arbitrator, an arbitrator would rule that the use of “demotion” implies a reduction to the appropriate pay step in the new rank.
To submit questions on public safety labor and employment issues, visit our website at www.LRIS.com. LRIS and Will Aitchison do not provide any legal advice, and users of this Q&A service and the LRIS website should consult with their own lawyer for legal advice. LRIS is a general service that provides information over the Internet. We are not a law firm and our employees are not acting as your attorney. The information contained in the Site is general legal information and should not be construed as legal advice to be applied to any specific factual situation.