CONNstruction - Summer 2008 - (Page 17)

newsandviews Just Cause A basic principle underlying most disciplinary procedures is that management must have “just cause” for imposing discipline. This standard is often written into contracts or read into them by arbitrators. While the definition of just cause necessarily varies from case to case, one arbitrator listed seven tests for determining whether an employer had just cause for disciplining an employee: • Was the employee adequately warned of the consequences of his conduct? The warning may be given orally or in printed form. An exception may be made for conduct that is so serious that the employee is expected to know it will be punishable, such as insubordination, coming to work under the influence, drinking on the job, or stealing. • Was the employer’s rule or order reasonably related to efficient and safe operation? • Did management investigate before administering discipline? The investigation normally should be made before a decision to discipline is made. Where immediate action is required, however, the best course is to suspend the employee pending investigation with the understanding that he will be restored to his job and paid for time lost if he is found not guilty. [Note that evidence discovered after an employee is disciplined, will not be admissible in an ensuing arbitration.] • Was the investigation fair and objective? • Did the investigation produce substantial evidence or proof of guilt? It is not required that evidence be “beyond reasonable doubt” except where the alleged misconduct is of such a criminal or reprehensible nature as to stigmatize the employee By Jack Leahy CCIA Director of Labor Relations and Human Resources and seriously impair his chances for future employment. • Were the rules, orders, and penalties applied evenhandedly and without discrimination? If enforcement has been lax in the past, management cannot suddenly reverse its course and begin to crack down without first warning employees of its intent. • Was the penalty reasonably related to the seriousness of the offense and the past record? If one employee’s record is significantly better that that of another, the employer may properly give the first a lighter punishment that the other. Applying these rules, arbitrator Carol Daugherty in Moore’s Seafood Products, Inc. found that an employer was not justified in discharging an employee allegedly for “quitting work early” without his supervisor’s permission since: (1) a company shop rule made the offense punishable by temporary suspension only, (2) the employer granted permission to sick employees to leave work early automatically in the past, (3) the employee had a nervous condition and was upset by other employees “running wild,” and (5) the personnel manager’s decision to discharge the employee without first having made a reasonable investigation into the incident was arbitrary and unreasonable. In addition to applying these standards, arbitrators also examine labor contracts to see that disciplinary procedures have been followed. Many agreements specify procedural requirements for discharge or discipline. For example, our labor contracts with the teamsters specify that disciplinary actions more than 18 months old shall have “no force or effect” and that except in cases of certain listed offenses, no employee may be suspended or discharged unless he has been given a prior written warning. Thus, unless these added requirements are met, an arbitrator will not sustain management action, even if using a just cause standard he would. Finally, if you are reading this, unless you have an individual employment contract, (or live in Montana, the only state to provide non-represented employees with just cause protection) you are regarded as an employee “at will.” This means that you can be terminated for any reason or no reason at all, as long as discrimination laws are not violated. So if you are a tired white male, there is no arbitration forum and no seven tests for just cause for you, and hardly any protective legislation to help you, all you can do if you’re lucky is complain to your mother. CONNstruction / Summer 2008 / 17

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CONNstruction - Summer 2008

CONNstruction - Summer 2008
Going Forward
AGC/CT: Why Belong? Reasons Vary
Is the Glass Regulated Fill or Flowable Fill?
A Winning Strategy
Member Participation Vital to Success of Legislative Efforts
Just Cause...
Winner: Large New Construction Project
Winner: Large Renovation Project
Winner: Small Renovation Project
Winner: First-Time Applicant Award
Second Place Winners
Workshop Provides Education on Pervious Concrete as a Stormwater Solution
Guidelines for Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans Available
2008 Build CT Awards
UCAC at the NUCA Conference
Keep CT Moving Transportation Summit
UCAC’s Spring General Membership Meeting
WorkZone Safety Press Conference
Index to Advertisers

CONNstruction - Summer 2008