Legal Blog

The Link between Alex Rodriguez and Labor and Employment Law

Labor and Employment LawHoward Kurman, Chair of the Offit Kurman’s Labor and Employment Practice Group, delivers Labor and Employment Telebriefs every 2nd and 4th Wednesday at 9am Eastern Time. Mr. Kurman identifies 3-5 developments that have occurred over recent days/weeks that will significantly impact employers nationwide. The teleconferenced updates provide decision makers with employee relations responsibilities an easy way to stay current and compliant with federal and state labor and employment law developments and ahead of trends. The focus is always on the practical, and by receiving the information within weeks of the event, executives can act on suggestions early while there is time and opportunity to put in place the best solutions.

Here is an excerpt transcribed from Mr. Kurman’s Labor & Employment Telebrief 1.29.14.

The Link between Alex Rodriguez and Labor and Employment Law

Alex Rodriguez was recently suspended for the entire 2014 Major League Baseball season, a decision handed down by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz. He ruled that Rodriguez would be suspended as a result of two offenses:

  1. Numerous violations of the performance enhancing substance policy of the MLB Players Association and the league.
  2. For obstructing and interfering with the investigation.

After Horowitz’s decision, Alex Rodriguez’s attorneys filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in New York seeking to overturn the suspension, contending that Major League Baseball had violated his client’s rights and also filed a lawsuit against the Players Union.

“While some of you out there may not care in the least about baseball or Alex Rodriguez,” explains Kurman, “the reason I think that it’s interesting is because in my opinion it has many aspects of applicability to internal investigations and discipline of employees that you will undergo in your professional jobs as labor relations and human resources professionals.”

How the Alex Rodriguez decision affects your Business: Lessons Learned

  1. You are the judge of the Credibility of the witnesses you interview. “…just because you do not have an out and out confession by the alleged perpetrator in an investigation does not mean that you cannot take adverse action against the perpetrator based upon credible evidence coming out of the mouths of other witnesses or text messages or other kind of documentary evidence,” explains Kurman. In the Alex Rodriguez case, the New York Yankees third baseman had never failed a test for performance enhancing drugs. The arbitrator, however, ruled that the testimony of Tony Bosch, Rodriguez’s alleged supplier, and the fact that phone records showed that Rodriguez had spoken with Bosch on the phone 53 times and via text 556 times in 2012, was enough evidence to determine Rodriguez committed multiple violations of the Joint Drug Policy warranting a substantial disciplinary penalty.
  2. You have the power to keep arbitration hearings private. The only reason we know what happened in the Alex Rodriguez arbitration decision is that Rodriguez’s attorneys made this particular decision public by virtue of attaching it as an exhibit to their lawsuit.  Otherwise, it would not have been public information.  Thus, like an actual lawsuit, arbitration may keep employment disputes out of the public eye.
  3. The lack of cooperation of an alleged perpetrator in a work place investigation is an offense in and of itself. Rodriguez had publically denied being furnished banned drugs by Bosch. Furthermore, Rodriguez also attempted to induce Bosch to sign a sworn affidavit on May 31, 2013 attesting that Bosch never supplied Rodriguez with performance enhancing substances, which Rodriguez knew to be false. “You should have in your handbook a statement which indicates that as a condition of employment all employees agree to cooperate in any workplace investigation and that failure or refusal to do so is a separate offense which is disciplinable up to and including termination,” explains Kurman.

Howard-KurmanIf you have any questions about The Link between Alex Rodriguez and Labor and Employment Law, workplace investigations, or any labor and employment law compliance questions, please contact Offit Kurman attorney Howard Kurman at hkurman@offitkurman.com or 410.209.6417. You can also connect with Offit Kurman via FacebookTwitterGoogle+YouTube, and LinkedIn.

If you wish to participate in the Telebriefs, simply contact Jeanne Hyatt at jhyatt@offitkurman.com, who will be pleased to provide you with a Personal Identification Number (PIN), which is all that is required to participate.