Arbitrator Reinstates Veteran Hotel Worker After Attorney Hykel Shows Theft Allegation Was Unfounded
A hotel worker of nearly two decades was summarily discharged after she found and returned a Apple Watch lost by a hotel guest. An independent arbitrator agreed with Attorney James Hykel and UNITE HERE Local 26 that the employer could not show the employee intended to steal the watch.
The custom of workers at this hotel is to hold onto lost or missing items until the end of the day, in case guests return to claim the item. No guest returned to reclaim the Apple Watch. The hotel worker personally secured the item and returned to work the next day with it unopened in its package. When asked if she found an Apple Watch, the hotel worker instantly admitted finding the item and produced it untouched. The arbitrator agreed that while the worker's actions violated the hotel's unclaimed property policy, her actions nonetheless were inconsistent with an intent to actually steal the Apple Watch. Otherwise, she would not have freely and admitted to possessing it, would not have brought it back to work the very next day, and would have not have left the package unopened.
The arbitrator ordered the hotel to reinstate the worker and make her whole for wages and benefits lost from the wrongful termination. He reduced the termination to a three-day suspension for violating the unclaimed property policy.