After a busy year for the Wiley Law Office, both Ben and Greg wrapped up the fall on a high note. While many grievances for the year were delayed due to Covid, eventually that matters needed to be taken to hearing in order to resolve the lingering issues that employers were still experiencing as operations continued.
In Metropolitan Council – Transit and Amalgamated Transit Union, an employee was terminated following an accident where a pedestrian was struck after disembarking from the employer’s bus. As the passenger attempted to retrieve his bike from the front of the bus, the grievant began pulling the vehicle away from the curb without checking his mirrors for “runners.” As the passenger attempted to alert the grievant of his presence, he was struck by the bus and injured. In accordance with its standard practice, the employer terminated the employee because the accident involved a pedestrian. During the hearing, it was imperative that the employer not only prove that the grievant’s actions led to the accident, but also that the grievant’s actions warranted immediate termination.
In the end, the employer was able to prove through its investigation and presentation that the pedestrian’s injuries were caused by the grievant’s bus (despite the grievant’s denials), and that the grievant’s two safety errors led to the accident taking place. The employer was able to do this without video of the accident actually occurring. The arbitrator found that based on the severity of the injuries to the passenger and the grievant’s disciplinary history termination was appropriate.
In Metropolitan Council, Metro Transit Division and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, the grievant was terminated after his fifth accident in a year. However, while the grievant’s disciplinary record was not stellar, the responsibility for the grievant’s fifth accident was in question. While driving down Lake Street in Minneapolis, the grievant’s bus struck the door of a vehicle that opened moments before the grievant passed it.
During the hearing, the union argued that there the grievant should not be held responsible, based on the lack of time the grievant had to respond to the door opening prior to contact. However, the employer was able to prove, through its presentation of video evidence, as well as the grievant’s statements against his own interest, that the grievant received training on how to respond to this exact situation, and failed to take appropriate action to avoid it. In addition, while the damage to the bus was minor, the employer was able to prove that it has consistently held employees responsible for accidents, no matter how small the amount of damage may be.
With that, Arbitrator Miller found that there was no evidence that could allow the grievant to maintain his employment, especially when no evidence was provided showing that any Metro Transit employee have maintained his or her employment following a fifth responsible accident in a three-year period. As such, the termination was upheld.
There is always uncertainty in arbitration – from incomplete evidence to unpredictable decision-makers, there is a lot that can go wrong. The most important part for every arbitration is to make sure your side is prepared to present its most complete and comprehensive case in order to help the arbitrator make the right decision. If you, or your organization are in need of assistance in presenting your cases at arbitration, contact the Wiley Law Office, for arbitration experience that works.