In a significant win for seven Massachusetts State Troopers, an independent arbitrator has ruled in their favor, resulting in their reinstatement to their positions and the receipt of back pay. The arbitrator found that the state police violated the troopers’ rights to anti-discrimination and affirmative action by failing to accommodate their sincerely held religious beliefs regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.
Background of the Case:
The legal dispute originated when Massachusetts’ Governor Charlie Baker issued an executive order in October 2021, mandating that all executive branch employees show proof of vaccination by October 2021 or face disciplinary measures, including potential termination. In April 2022, eleven State Troopers and one sergeant were terminated for refusing to get vaccinated.
After a lengthy and arduous grievance and arbitration process, the independent arbitrator delivered a verdict in favor of the troopers on Friday. Consequently, the seven state troopers will be reinstated, receiving their full seniority rights and benefits, except for any interim earnings and unemployment compensation.
Association President’s Remarks:
Patrick McNamara, the President of the State Police Association of Massachusetts, criticized Governor Baker’s executive order, characterizing it as an assault on organized labor and the rights of their members. He expressed his pride in informing the troopers of their reinstatement, emphasizing the association’s commitment to making them whole.
Governor Baker’s administration has faced backlash for its refusal to collaborate or engage with the State Police Association throughout the legal battle. The association accuses the administration of disregarding the troopers’ religious beliefs.
No Immediate Comment from Massachusetts State Police:
As of now, the Massachusetts State Police have not issued an official response to the recent ruling in favor of the seven troopers.