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Employee Reinstated Due to Company’s Lax/Uneven Enforcement of Work Rules

by | Dec 26, 2023 | Labor Law |

On December 8, 2023, Arbitrator Benjamin Kerner held that a smoke shop unlawfully discharged an employee for excessive tardiness. The discharged employee worked two jobs and was regularly late for her shifts at the smoke shop. The smoke shop knew about her other job when she was hired and allowed her to arrive late for her shifts. Fast forward six months and the Company discharged the employee for excessive tardiness without notifying her that her tardiness was unacceptable and without issuing a prior warning.

The Union, represented by Joseph Torres, argued that the Company did not have just cause to discharge the employee because: (1) the Company failed to provide the employee with prior notice that her tardiness was unacceptable; (2) the Company allowed the conduct to occur for six months; and (3), immediate discharge was too severe. In holding that the employee was unlawfully discharged, the Arbitrator stated that “The Grievant was not afforded any progressive discipline, such as the administration of intermediate amount of discipline . . . The [Company] moved immediately to discharge . . . it thus appears that the Company has fallen short of its duty to show Just Cause for discharge.”

In unionized settings, under the principles of just cause, discipline is meant to be corrective and send a rehabilitative message to employees who engage in misconduct. Moreover, when an employer chooses to enforce a work rule it previously did not enforce, employees cannot be severely punished for an employer’s lax and uneven enforcement. The Company fundamentally failed to meet these standards, and the employee was rightfully restored to her former job.