Attorney Ryan Persuades Arbitrator that Commonwealth Lacked Just Cause to Suspend Local 509 Member and Keep on Admin Leave for Months

October 29, 2018

The Department of Transitional Assistance suspended an employee represented by SEIU Local 509 for 10 days after finding that she was responsible for a loud altercation in a state office and that she threatened coworkers anonymously. When finally provided a hearing before a neutral decisionmaker, Attorney Jillian Ryan showed that these claims were unfounded.

The Arbitrator agreed that the grievant did not instigate a loud confrontation in the office, but rather was provoked by a colleague. Further, the Commonwealth's suspension failed to consider this context or grievant's work history, so he reduced the discipline to a written warning, as he agreed that the grievant could have behaved more professionally.

He found that the Commonwealth failed to establish that the grievant made harassing phone calls. In fact, he suggested that it was equally plausible that the grievant was subject to a false allegation: "Although it is impossible to know on this record, and I do not so find, I nonetheless find it equally plausible that [two co-workers] made up this entire incident."

Attorney Ryan did not merely persuade the Arbitrator that the suspension lacked just cause, she also convinced the Arbitrator that the Commonwealth: a) wrongly removed the grievant from the payroll and/or charged her sick time; b) denied her notice before a transfer; and c) kept her on administrative leave for an "inordinately long time."

The latter violation effectively deprived her of the opportunity for an upgrade in classification and pay. The Arbitrator ordered the Commonwealth to make the grievant whole for these violations.