Attorney Hykel Wins Reinstatement of Human Services Worker Represented by SEIU Local 509
For workers who assist patients with disabilities, there are few allegations more stigmatizing than patient abuse, especially when those allegations are demonstrably false. That is why it is important for SEIU Local 509 to negotiate contract language that ensures workers have a right to independent and fair investigations into such allegations and for a professional arbitrator to scrutinize disciplinary decisions that employers make about such allegations. Attorney Hykel persuaded a neutral arbitrator that that a human services employer not only failed to conduct thorough independent investigations, but that the allegations of patient abuse were false.
The arbitrator interpreted the contract language to require an employer to do more than rely upon any investigation by an outside agency. She found that the employer basically deferred to an outside agency, which effectively deprived the worker of appropriate due process. The arbitrator heard direct testimony and concluded that the worker did not, as alleged, slap a patient. The suspension and termination of the employee was without just cause, she concluded.
As a result of the wrongful termination, the arbitrator ordered the employer to make the employee whole for lost wages and benefits during the period of suspension and termination, to expunge all references to underlying disciplinary actions from his personnel record, and to offer reinstatement.