Court Lets Stand Arbitrator Award under Dispute Resolution Plan

December 1, 2008 ( - The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has let stand an arbitrator's decision under the Halliburton Dispute Resolution Plan, finding the arbitrator did not exceed his authority under the plan.

Kellogg Brown & Root Technical Services, Inc. argued that the sole issue before the arbitrator was whether employee Edward Harris’ termination was the result of racial discrimination and the arbitrator erred when he found that the employer had not discriminated against Harris but, nevertheless, wrongfully fired him. The court noted that the plan authorized the arbitrator to interpret the scope of his “powers and duties” and the issues submitted, and he viewed the dispute as focused on whether the employer fired the plaintiff wrongfully.

The Legal Intelligencer reports that arbitrator Robert B. Davidson of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution found that company policy promised that “all complaints of discrimination will be promptly investigated,” but that the investigation of charges lodged against Harris was “seriously flawed.” Harris was accused by a female employee of sexual harassment.

At the arbitration hearing, Harris insisted there was an innocent explanation for all of his actions. Davidson said Harris was never informed of the charges against him and was not given the chance to tell his side of the story before he was fired, according to the Legal Intelligencer.

Davidson found that Harris’ testimony was credible and concluded that the innocent explanations Harris offered could and would have cleared him of the charges if Kellogg Brown & Root had investigated properly.