Sunday, June 29, 2014

Arbitrator conditions reinstatement on personal apology

Grievant was employed as a civilian dispatcher by the Cleveland Police Department. On March 6, 2013, he handled a call from the Board of Education reporting a school lock down and a belief that an unidentified individual was in route to the school to "shoot up" the facility and possibly those in it. Grievant's handling of the call, and his conduct immediately thereafter, was the subject of criticism by the management of the call center. He was ultimately disciplined for a number of acts of alleged misconduct, including improper use of his personal cell phone to conduct official business, leaving the dispatch center early without permission, and being "untruthful" concerning permission he claimed to have received from the Commander of the center concerning handling of the situation. He was also charged with using "disrespectful, derogatory and insubordinate language" when describing his interactions with the Commander. These conversations were recorded. Grievant's employment was terminated.  The Union grieved the termination and the matter was submitted to Arbitrator William Allport.

Arbitrator Allport found that grievant had engaged in much of the conduct alleged, but found termination too severe a penalty. With particular reference to Grievant's language concerning the Commander, Arbitrator Allport found Grievant's comments "at best ill advised, derogatory, and regretful." Given the "gravity" of the comments, together with Grievant's other transgressions, the Arbitrator concluded that Grievant should be reinstated without back pay. As part of the remedy, however, he also ordered Grievant to "compose and sign a Letter of Apology" directed to the Commander, sincerely apologizing for his remarks. This letter was to be personally delivered to the Commander by Grievant, accompanied by his Local President and Union Counsel, and was to be paired with an oral apology. At the option of the Commander, the letter could be posted in the center for a period of 45 days.

Arbitrator Allport appended to his award a sample Letter of Apology. The sample reads:

To: Commander S
I genuinely regret the insolent and disrespectful statements that I made respecting you on March 6, 2013. There is no excuse for such conduct. I was wrong to make those statements and I sincerely apologize to you for such inappropriate and offensive remarks.
I understand and agree that my conduct on March 6, 2014 was totally unacceptable by any standard.
I can assure you that I will never make disrespectful comments concerning you or any other supervisory employee of the Cleveland Police Department in the future.
I am hopeful that you will forgive me for this indiscretion.
Once again my sincere apology.
_________________________________
Grievant
Dated:

Should Grievant decline to write and deliver the letter, and the personal apology, the reinstatement called for in the Award would become "Void" and the original termination stand.

19actionnews reports on the dispute (Another worker fired from Cleveland police gets his job back), and links to Arbitrator Allport's Award here.


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