Labor Representative Cases, First Quarter of 2010
SUCCESSFUL CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION
Terminations Reduced to Suspensions Without Pay
MEA Senior Labor Relations Representative Kelly Cruz represented a 24 year City employee and Labor Relations Representative Marin Mejia represented a 20 year employee who were both facing termination due to alleged violations of the City’s Threat Management Policy found in Administration Regulation 97.10. Prior to the hearing, both representatives spent considerable time meeting with both appellants, reviewing their personnel files and interviewing and even subpoenaing some witnesses in order to prepare for the appeal hearing.
The appeal for the 24 year City employee was heard at the Civil Service Commission on July 24th. Following the hearing, Commissioner Edward Fletcher advised his fellow commissioners not to terminate the appellant’s employment with the City due to several mitigating factors including the employee’s honest and forthcoming testimony, his sincere remorse for his conduct during the incident in question and most importantly, the appellant’s length and highly satisfactory tenure with the City. The Commission ruled in favor of the appellant and reduced the judgment from a termination to suspension without pay.
The appeal for the 20 year City employee was heard at the Civil Service Commission on August 12th. Commissioner Kathryn Ashworth presided over the case and acknowledged the appellant’s lengthy tenure with the City and his lack of any previous formal disciplinary action. In addition, Commissioner Ashworth disagreed with the City and did not believe it was realistic to assume the employee could have resolved the situation differently. Based on these findings, the commissioner determined that a suspension without pay, rather than termination was warranted in the case.
Two Week Suspension Overturned and Back Pay with 7% Interest Awarded
MEA Senior Labor Relations Representative Gwen Phillips represented an employee faced with a two week suspension for his/her alleged conduct and negligence with City property. The negligence charges were a result of a system failure that caused considerable damage to a UV disinfection system.
Gwen analyzed the merits of the suspension by reviewing all of the supporting documentation, meeting with the employee and witnesses and consulting MEA’s attorney. Based on her extensive review, Gwen determined that the charges were not supported by the evidence and that the employee had acted appropriately.
The hearing included exhibits rebutting the evidence (including the finding that policies had been put in place after the incident) and testimony from an expert witness who was very familiar with the plant facility where the incident occurred. The expert testified that it would be difficult to identify what could have been done differently to prevent the system failure.
Based on the findings and testimony, the Commission agreed with MEA’s position and cited insufficient evidence to find the employee responsible for the system failure. The Commission ruled that no disciplinary action was warranted and awarded the employee the pay lost during the suspension as well as 7% interest.
Termination Reduced to Demotion
Gwen also represented a 20 year City employee who was facing termination at the Civil Service Commission. Leading up to the appeal, Gwen spent hours meeting with the employee, reviewing facts, appealing the termination at the department level, consulting MEA’s attorney and even interviewing 20 character witnesses on behalf of the employee. Based on Gwen’s analysis, it was evident there were strong grounds to appeal the termination before the Civil Service Commission.
The appeal was heard before the Civil Service Commission on August 13th and 14th. Although a decision wasn’t reached until November, the Commission ruled in favor of the MEA-represented employee. Based on the evidence presented, the Commission agreed with MEA’s position that termination was not justified and considered the employee’s lengthy tenure and exemplary performance history in reducing the judgment to a demotion.