“Short Circuits” on transit police arbitration

Our friends at the Institute for Justice have recently gone public with a beta version of what had been an internal newsletter, called Short Circuits, providing condensed (and sometimes acidulous) summaries of cases out of the federal courts of appeals. You can subscribe here. One of recent interest:

WMATA, a transit agency that serves the greater D.C. area, fires two police officers. (One allegedly struck a passenger and lied about it. The other allegedly altercated with a companion and lied about it.) Arbitrators order the pair reinstated, but by then their Maryland certification has lapsed, and, after the transit police chief voices strenuous opposition to their recertification, Maryland commissioners refuse to recertify the two. WMATA can’t have uncertified officers, so they are fired again. 4th Circuit: Which is cool.


  • Mr. Olson,

    I don’t think that the 4th Circuit said that what the employer did was cool. It did not rule on the merits. Instead, it found that the subsequent termination did not violate the initial arbitrator’s order to reinstate the officers. Consequently, it found that the proper course of action was to file a grievance.

    This was a procedural loss for the employees. I think that they are unable to continue the grievance process regarding the second termination, so they are SOL.

    I should point out that the part of the posting I take issue with is a quotation from another source, not you. I would change your description of the newsletter to read: condensed (and sometimes acidulous) (and sometimes entirely misleading) summaries

  • The summary is flip and omits complication, but I wouldn’t call it “entirely misleading.” The court upheld WMATA’s position that it had acted lawfully on the issue under challenge. It wasn’t called on to resolve whether other avenues of recourse might have succeeded for the officers, or might succeed in the future.

  • Thanks for the referral to Short Circuit. I’ve subscribed and I’m going to pass it on.

  • “Altercated”?