May 1997 Legal Update

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

STOBER SUCCESSFULLY CHALLENGES NCMC JOB REASSIGNMENT

In a case of importance to all County employees, I recently successfully arbitrated a case at the NCMC involving the reassignment of an employee who the County claimed had to be moved to a different floor based on allegations of patient abuse.

The County claimed that under Section 4 of the CBA they had the absolute right to reassign this employee. I argued that the County had abused their rights under Section 4 and had violated the employee's Section 12 Seniority rights as well.

The facts were that this long term employee with no prior record was accused by a doctor of having used excessive force on a patient. However, all the other employees who witnessed the incident stated that this was false and that the doctor could not have seen what was going on. Further proof of this was in the doctor's own notes of the incident which he prepared at the time of the incident. Those notes made no mention of excessive force or any improper action by anyone. It was only after this employee made known the facts of the doctor's inaction that all of a sudden allegations of excessive force were brought.

The Arbitrator ruled that the reassignment of the employee violated the CBA because: "Management had no legitimate reason to reassign the Grievant under Section 4 or even Section 12 of the CBA … there exists no legitimate, sustainable reason for Management's reassigning of the Grievant and because its action was based entirely on unfounded allegations, the Union's grievance, in this case, must be sustained."

The employee was ordered returned to his old assignment and to be compensated for the loss of any special pay, etc. that he would have been entitled to.

The lesson to be learned is that you have the right to challenge a job reassignment if you believe it was done based on unfounded allegations against you. Even the Management's Rights clause of the CBA can be used against management when they abuse their authority and take punitive action against employees for no legitimate reason. So, if you believe you have been victimized like the employee in this article, contact your union representative and file a grievance. Job reassignments can be overturned.