Sunday, January 25, 2015

Arbitrator: Homicide detective's inattention to cases provides just cause for termination

Grievant was employed as a detective in the Houston Police Department, employed in the homicide division. Upon his transfer out of that division his Lieutenant discovered that in a significant number of grievant's cases had not been updated and, on further investigation, determined that grievant had failed to follow up on a number of cases. The investigation concluded that grievant had also falsified records by claiming to have referred cases to the prosecutor or the grand jury when, in fact, he had not. 

Grievant's employment was terminated for, inter alia, inattention to duties, for untruthfulness concerning the records and reports, and for insubordination (in failing to follow instructions to bring in all files). Grievant challenged the decision and the dispute was submitted to Arbitrator Lynne Gomez for resolution. The Union acknowledged that grievant had not timely updated his files, but maintained that the City had failed to establish the other charges. It claimed that while some discipline was warranted, termination ("indefinite suspension") was unwarranted.

Arbitrator Gomez found that the City had established its charges. She rejected grievant's claim that his case load was excessive and his denial that he had been untruthful.

 Upholding the termination Arbitrator Gomez concluded:

The Union zealously represented the Grievant. However, the totality of the credible evidence presented demonstrates that just cause existed for issuance of the Indefinite Suspension, and that Chief McClelland's decision should not be disturbed. The full impact of the Grievant's misconduct may never be known, but the evidence demonstrated that it allowed murderers to remain on the streets; caused unnecessary frustration and heartache to the families of victims; and led Houston's citizens to question the Department's integrity. The Grievant's misconduct and lack of concern for victims and their families has also caused embarrassment to the Department and, specifically, to Homicide investigators, whose ability to solve cases may be hampered by diminished trust and confidence in the Department. 

The Houston Chronicle reports on the case here and links to the award of Arbitrator Gomez here.

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