Attorney Ian Russell Wins Reinstatement for Falsely-Accused Direct Care Worker Represented by SEIU Local 509

June 2, 2017

A neutral arbitrator found that a worker did not abuse patients with disabilities and therefore the employer's termination of the worker violated the collective bargaining agreement. Thanks to union representation by SEIU Local 509, the worker is entitled to reinstatement and to back pay for lost wages and benefits for the past year.

The abuse of patients with disabilities is an extremely serious offense that can result in criminal, civil, and administrative penalties to the abuser. But the seriousness of the offense does not mean an employer is relieved of its responsibility, under a collective bargaining agreement, to establish "just cause" for its action.

Here, a patient's family secretly recorded the patient's residency in a direct care facility. The family alleged that the video showed abuse by the worker and a state investigator agreed. The employer then terminated the worker. The independent arbitrator reviewed the video footage and found that there was no evidence of physical or mental mistreatment or abuse. The footage, however, confirmed physical abuse from two co-workers, who were fired.

But for the advocacy of SEIU Local 509 and Attorney Ian Russell, the worker here would have a damning and horrifying allegation on his employment record.

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Ian O. Russell