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Selective Firing, Is there a Wrongful Term in this case - Florida

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  • Selective Firing, Is there a Wrongful Term in this case - Florida

    Good morning everyone, I need your advice please....

    The basics to my company: Local Government, 1700 employees total, Union, Progressive-Discipline Policy on the books (verbal, written, counseling, termination).

    The basics to the situation: Group of 10 employees are accused of embezzlement and theft (each accused in an amount of $400 if that makes a difference), 'crimes' severe enough to bypass the progressive-discipline policy according to management. Four of the employees are given written warnings for their files, two of the employees are being suspended without pay for a small number of days, four are being fired outright.

    All ten employees are being accused of the same thing but the discipline being applied is not the same.

    Some additional facts that may be helpful:

    It turns out 11 employees were implicated in wrong doing, but one employee was given the opportunity to pay back any monies owed with the end result of being able to 'buy out' of any trouble. That employee is the assistant to the director if it makes a difference.

    The six employees being reprimanded are in the same department that is the source of the investigation, the four being fired are in different departments.

    Anyone have an opinion on the best course to take for the fired employees? Should this go to the EEOC? Or Labor Board? Or straight to a Lawyer? And if it should go straight to a Lawyer, what specialty is best?

    For the record, this situation is not happening to me, it is happening to my assistant who is one of the four being fired. I am asking on her behalf because she is understandably stressed at the moment.

    Thank you in advance for your input and advice.

  • #2
    Covered by a union contract or civil service rules?
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Pattymd View Post
      Covered by a union contract or civil service rules?
      I will say no to the Civil Service Rules because I don't know.

      We are under Union Contract (until October at least). Union negotiated Progressive Discipline for the contract, but the employees in question are being accused of embezzlement and fraud which are severe enough to bypass the progressive discipline process.

      Comment


      • #4
        On the basis of what you have posted, this is not a wrongful termination under the law. The law does not require that all employees be treated identically, even for the same infraction (or assumed infraction); it requires only that differences in treatment cannot be based in a characteristic protected by law.

        Whether or not this violates the union contract, we cannot say, not having read it. What does the union rep think?
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by cbg View Post
          Whether or not this violates the union contract, we cannot say, not having read it. What does the union rep think?
          The Union Lawyer is recommending she seek private council.

          Our Union is 'weak' for lack of a more professional way to describe it. My employee has been in the union for much less time (less than a year) than the others involved (five or more years) in this situation. Because she is a 'junior' union member the Union is devoting their resources to defending those that have been in the Union longer and recommending she seek her own options.

          Comment


          • #6
            We don't know if termination violates the union contract but generally this would not be
            a wrongful termination. (based on what you posted)

            http://en.wikipedia.org:80/wiki/Wrongful_dismissal
            Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

            Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

            Comment


            • #7
              Do you (or your assistant) have reason to believe that the 4 employees that were outright fired was due to them belonging the a particular protected class?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by HR Generalist View Post
                Do you (or your assistant) have reason to believe that the 4 employees that were outright fired was due to them belonging the a particular protected class?
                I want to say no, but when you look at all of the people involved that is a possibility however slight a possibility it may be. The Assistant Director of the Department that 'started' this process is white, the ten people that are being reprimanded and/or fired are all black.

                The same could be said if you swap Union for Race. The Assistant Director who started this process is very openly anti-Union and all ten of the people involved are Union members. I know Florida is a Right-To-Work state so any Union-Busting on the side of management is a completely different consideration from my question specific to my assistant being fired.

                Comment


                • #9
                  And what about the four who were fired outright? What characteristic do they share that the other six do not?
                  The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cbg View Post
                    And what about the four who were fired outright? What characteristic do they share that the other six do not?
                    The Department that this whole situation originated in is the Parks Department. The four being fired outright are *not* in the Parks Department. The six that are keeping their jobs are *in* the Parks Department

                    The four that are being fired are all 'Junior' Union members meaning they haven't been members of the Union for very long (less than a year each). This particular point is more of an issue to take up with the Union, but I am including it in case its helpful.

                    The four that are being fired outright are all have less than ten years of service to the City. The six that are keeping their jobs all have more than ten years of service. Ten is the magic number to be eligible for pension benefits.

                    Everyone involved is this issue are female. Everyone involved in this issue is 40 years old or less.

                    Does any of that help or even make a difference?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I can't speak to all the union stuff, but I'm just in shock that an employer, any employer, would not just fire all the people who have stolen money.

                      It should be simple:
                      steal from employer=get fired
                      steal from employer, and you're a long time employee who walks on water=get fired

                      Can the supervisors ever trust those employees that they are keeping ever again?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TSCompliance View Post
                        I'm just in shock that an employer, any employer, would not just fire all the people who have stolen money.
                        That is part of the problem with this situation. The four that are being fired outright are not the ones that have stolen anything. They are being *accused* of stealing and embezzlement which is a 'crime' sufficient enough to bypass the progressive discipline process.

                        I keep using the quotes around 'crime' because management has not proven the four being fired actually stole anything, the simple accusation of it is enough to terminate them. I know this is not a court-room style evidence procedure so they don't 'have' to prove anything.

                        Can the supervisors ever trust those employees that they are keeping ever again?
                        That actually goes the other way around, can those not in the department ever trust working with or for those supervisors again? How do I know I wont be accused of something like this in the future from those same supervisors. If I were to upset them in any way what is stopping them from doing the same thing to me?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Since what department you work for is not a characteristic protected by law, the fact that the ones who were fired are all part of the same department and the others are not, does not give them any kind of illegal discrimination complaint as far as the law is concerned. Again, this is going to come down to their union contract.
                          The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            It sounds to me as though management is making decisions based on 'all' knowledge of the situation, including all aspects of employment. Meaning - it sounds as though there may be more to the story than meets the eye.
                            Not everything in America is actionable in a court of law. Please remember that attorneys are in business for profit, and they get paid regardless of whether or not you win or lose.

                            I offer my knowledge and experience at no charge, I admit that I am NOT infallible, I am wrong sometimes, hopefully another responder will correct me if that is the case with the answer above, regardless, it is your responsibility to verify any and all information provided.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Chip and Andy View Post
                              The four that are being fired outright are not the ones that have stolen anything.
                              I am missing something. How do you know that these four did not steal anything?
                              "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                              Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

                              Comment

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