Ian Russell Wins Reinstatement for Social Worker Represented By SEIU Local 509

February 1, 2017

A major benefit of union representation is that employees can have access to independent review of an employer's claims for discipline. An arbitrator usually determines whether the employee engaged in the misconduct alleged by the employer and, if so, whether the discipline is appropriate under the circumstances. Here, Massachusetts state agency, the Department of Children and Families, fired the Grievant, an experienced social worker, after it determined she was speeding more than 100 miles per hour while transporting a teenager under state supervision.

The Grievant appealed the traffic citation to a magistrate, who found that she was traveling no more than 75 miles per hour and reduced the fine.

A neutral arbitrator agreed with Attorney Russell, Local 509 and the magistrate that there was insufficient credible evidence to support the core allegation that the Grievant was speeding at 100 miles per hour. He agreed that she was traveling only 10 miles above the limit, a speed that never placed the teenager in jeopardy.

Because the state could not establish that the Grievant was traveling more than 100 miles per hour, the Arbitrator reduced the discipline to a written warning. He ordered the State to offer reinstatement and offer to make the Grievant whole for losses suffered because of the

Related Attorney: 
Ian O. Russell