Essence Test Law and Legal Definition

Essence test refers to a test in which an arbitrator's award is upheld as final and binding, unless the award does not draw its essence from the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). In applying the essence test to determine whether an arbitrator's award is final and binding, the arbitrator's factual findings are not subject to review. The court may also not consider the reasonableness of the arbitrator's interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement. The court may only vacate the arbitrator's award where it is indisputably without foundation in the collective bargaining agreement, or fails to logically flow from the collective bargaining agreement.

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reaffirms the essence test as the proper standard to be employed by a court when reviewing a grievance arbitration award and adopts a public policy exception to that test. [Westmoreland Intermediate Unit # 7 v. Westmoreland Intermediate Unit # 7 Classroom Assistants Educ. Support Pers. Ass'n, PSEA/NEA, 595 Pa. 648 (Pa. 2007)].