FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
MASSACHUSETTS [Hon. Nathaniel M. Gorton, U.S. District Judge]
F. Lamond, with whom Allison J. Zimmon and McDonald Lamond
Canzoneri were on brief, for appellant.
D. Nadreau, with whom Joseph W. Ambash and Fisher &
Phillips, LLP were on brief, for appellee.
Torruella, Lynch, and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.
KAYATTA, CIRCUIT JUDGE
Maureen Bean grabbed the face of a colleague at work, the
Steward Holy Family Hospital ("the Hospital")
terminated her employment as a nurse in the medical-surgical
unit. Bean's union, the Massachusetts Nurses Association
("the Union"), then initiated grievance procedures
against the Hospital, arguing that there was not just cause
for her termination under the parties' collective
bargaining agreement (CBA). The parties submitted the dispute
to an arbitrator. After establishing that Bean had engaged in
misconduct providing just cause for discipline, the
arbitrator concluded that Bean's termination was
nevertheless unwarranted and ordered that she be reinstated
with backpay. The Hospital initiated this action to vacate
the arbitrator's award, asserting that the arbitrator
exceeded his authority under the parties' CBA. The U.S.
District Court for the District of Massachusetts agreed and
entered summary judgment for the Hospital. We now reverse.
parties accept the general proposition that "an
arbitrator's factual findings are not open to judicial
challenge." El Dorado Tech. Servs., Inc.
v. Union Gen. de Trabajadores, 961 F.2d
317, 320 (1st Cir. 1992). So, we summarize the facts as they
are presented in the arbitrator's opinion.
case arose out of confusion surrounding the granting of
vacation requests by nurses within the medical- surgical unit
of the Hospital. Chris Ouellet, the supervising nurse in that
unit, maintained a policy of resolving competing vacation
requests based on seniority. In January 2016, Ouellet
received vacation requests for the first week of March from
Bean, two more senior nurses, and a junior nurse, Nancy
Waterhouse. Ouellet denied Bean's request but instead
offered her the second week in March, which Bean accepted.
Upon inspecting the vacation calendar in the nurses'
break room, Bean discerned that Waterhouse -- who had
submitted an earlier request and had already paid a deposit
on a vacation rental -- had received approval from Ouellet to
take off the first week in March.
pleased with this turn of events, Bean called
Waterhouse's home numerous times, leaving multiple
voicemails and requesting that Waterhouse return her calls
before the two briefly "discuss[ed] the vacation
situation without rancor." The following weekend, Bean
called and left messages for Waterhouse on Friday, Saturday,
and Sunday to inform her of an upcoming union meeting that
had been calendared to discuss problems related to scheduling
vacations. Waterhouse did not return Bean's calls. Then,
while Waterhouse and Bean were both clocking into work the
following Tuesday, Bean confronted Waterhouse about her
unreturned calls, squeezed Waterhouse's cheek, and,
"talking like a baby, asked if everything worked out
with her vacation." Waterhouse angrily told Bean to
"worry about [her] own vacation." Later that day,
Bean came up behind Waterhouse, ran a finger along her back,
and said, "I didn't mean to upset you back there. We
need to do something about this vacation policy."
Waterhouse responded that she agreed that something needed to
be done about the vacation policy but that she did not
appreciate the phone calls or Bean's grabbing her by the
days later, Waterhouse reported the incident to the
Hospital's Human Resources Department. This was not the
first time that Bean's coworkers had reported her for
misconduct. Four years earlier, Ouellet counseled Bean after
she "angrily pulled the ponytail of a colleague."
Ouellet again counseled Bean after she reportedly
"demeaned a student nurse and offended [the resident
nurse]." And just one week before the altercation with
Waterhouse, Ouellet gave Bean a verbal warning for
"profanely defying [Ouellet's] directive."
Following an investigation into Waterhouse's allegations,
the Hospital terminated Bean. It based the termination solely
on its conclusion that Bean had indeed grabbed Waterhouse by
the face -- an act that the Hospital deemed an
"assault." The Union then initiated grievance
proceedings against the Hospital on Bean's behalf,
arguing that Bean was not guilty of misconduct and,
alternatively, that termination was a disproportionate
response to Bean's alleged wrongdoing.
provides for the use of arbitration to resolve formal
grievances related to the Hospital's
"interpretation, application, or enforcement" of
the CBA. Significantly, however, the arbitrator's
authority to resolve grievances arising under the CBA is not
plenary under the terms of the CBA. The text of the CBA as it
bears on the scope of that authority is as follows:
• Article V, Management Rights
o Section 1: "Except to the extent expressly
limited by this Agreement, the Hospital retains the exclusive
right . . . to discipline and discharge Employees for just
cause . . . [and] to issue, amend and enforce reasonable work
rules and policies not inconsistent with the provisions of