New York’s High Court Holds City Agency Must Give Union Information Relevant to Grievance

June 13, 2017

An important decision by New York’s high court has affirmed that when a union files a grievance against a city agency, it also has a right to information relevant to the grievance.

In 2009, the New York City Human Resources Administration (“HRA”) disciplined two of the nurses it employed.  The New York State Nurses Association (“NYSNA”) filed a grievance and requested information relevant to the grievance.  The New York City Board of Collective Bargaining (“BCB”) held that HRA violated New York City labor law by refusing to respond to NYSNA’s information request.  HRA challenged that decision in state court, and in 2013 a trial judge annulled the BCB decision.

In 2015, a state appeals court reversed, holding that the union had a right to the information.  HRA then appealed to the New York’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals.

On June 8, 2017, the New York Court of Appeals affirmed the appeals court decision, holding that the agency had to provide the union information relevant to the grievance.  The court rejected HRA’s contention that providing information to unions would “bog down” the grievance process.

Cohen, Weiss and Simon LLP partner Joseph Vitale litigated the appeal for NYSNA.