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Arbitrator Orders Florida State U. to Rescind Layoffs of Tenured Faculty Members

An independent arbitrator on Friday ordered Florida State University to rescind layoff notices to several tenured faculty members and slammed how administrators there had decided which jobs would be cut.

In a major victory for the state's faculty union, Stanley H. Sergent, a Sarasota-based lawyer picked by the university and the union to arbitrate the dispute, held that the university had failed to clearly justify its choices to eliminate certain positions, and had violated a provision of its faculty contract calling for it to try to protect the jobs of those faculty members who had continuously worked there the longest.

In his 83-page decision, Mr. Sergent wrote that the only reason the university had declared certain departments "suspended" was "to allow the effective layoff of all faculty and the selective recall of certain faculty," apparently for the sake of creating a subterfuge to avoid having to comply with a contractual requirement that it lay off tenured faculty members last. Mr. Sergent characterized the reasoning used by a dean in eliminating one faculty member's job as "arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable."

The arbitrator's decision applies only to 12 tenured faculty members who belong to the campus chapter of the United Faculty of Florida, and does not cover nine other tenured faculty members who do not belong to the union and also received notices of pending layoffs last year.

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