March 1997 Legal Update

COUNSEL'S CORNER
By: Louis D. Stober, Esq.
CSEA REGIONAL ATTORNEY

STOBER LEGAL ACTION PROTECTS PERSONAL LEAVE RIGHTS
AT NASSAU COUNTY CORRECTIONAL CENTER

In a case of importance to all Local 830 members, one of our arbitrators agreed with my arguments that once a supervisor grants emergency personal leave to an employee, no one can subsequently deny the use of the leave after the day has been taken.

One of the most important leave entitlements County employees has is personal leave. It is the employee's right to use said leave for any reason whatsoever so long as s/he complies with Section 42-11. Because of its importance, we are always diligent to prevent any infringement on this leave entitlement.

This particular arbitration was brought to stop the Correctional Center's attempt to reject personal leave that was previously granted after it was already taken. The result is that an employee is placed in a "no pay status". In this case, a Correction Officer requested two emergency personal leave days because his child was very ill. The Officer complied with the relevant Sheriff's Order by personally asking the Tour Commander for the time off and explaining why he needed the time off. He also put the reason in writing. The Tour Commander then granted the two days to the employee. Eleven days later, a Personnel supervisor wrote to the Sheriff that the employee should be placed in a no pay status for those two days. As a result, the employee filed a grievance.

In granting the grievance, the Arbitrator held: "I can not find any justification for the supervisor's reasoning…[after] the Grievant as required called the Tour Commander and was granted the time off."

By granting the request, the employee took the time off. By denying the request after the day was taken, the employee had no choice but be unfairly penalized. This violates the Contract. You, as an employee, are entitled to know, before you take time off, whether you will be granted the time off. If you are denied after the fact, contact your CSEA representative and file a grievance.

NASSAU COUNTY CORRECTIONAL CENTER LOSES DISCIPLINARY ACTION ON THREAT TO SUPERVISOR

In a second case of interest to all members, the Correctional Center lost its bid to discipline an employee for allegedly threatening a Supervisor. At the arbitration two supervisors testified that the employee allegedly took a "combat stance" against his supervisor. I was able to demonstrate through the Officer's testimony, the relative size of the two individuals, the fact that the Officer had already won a prior case in which he was wrongly accused of misconduct and through inconsistencies in the supervisors' testimony that the Correction Officer did not threaten his supervisor.

In fact, the arbitrator found that no threat had occurred, that the Officer did not act inappropriately to his Supervisor and ordered the Correctional Center to return six days pay to the Officer.

The lesson to be learned is that just because a supervisor accuses an employee of wrongdoing does not mean the employee will not be believed at arbitration. If you have been wrongly accused or wrongly disciplined, make sure to file a grievance or contest the discipline. CSEA will fight for you.