Dealing with Employees/Unfair Disipline?
I drive a city transit bus in Canada. We have cameras on board that were initially installed 'to protect the drivers'. They now seem to be used more to spy on the drivers.
Last week a cyclist called in to complain about my driving. Since it was such a busy day for me I could not remember the incident. His accusations included my bus cutting him off, me giving him the finger, and swearing at him.
I was asked to attend a meeting with supervisors, along with a union rep., and we went over the tape. None of the accusations were true. In fact it showed the cyclist himself behaving erraticly, and even topping in front of my bus on the street, on purpose to impede my progress, and swearing at me. I remember several passengers being concerned about that crazy guy on the bike. After viewing the tape I felt vindicated.
Shortly thereafter I was called back for a second meeting. Apparently they had 'reviewed the tape more closely'. They said the tape clearly showed that although none of his accusations were on the tape, my bus had 'crossed the yellow line', which is a traffic infraction, when I went around the when he was holding me up. This was a 'grave concern' and even though it was safe to pass and there was no oncoming traffic, I am suspended, with pay, until further notice.
The union is behind me, but there is not much they can do except for filing a greivance.
Question 1. Do you think their action is fair?
Question 2. Should I go above the heads of the transit dept supervisors, possibly to transit management or even higher to city management?
Question 3. Should I just take whatever disipline(this would be my first incident) they give out?
Thank you so much for giving me some advice on what to doin this situation.
I am sorry this has happened to you. I am not a labor law specialist or an expert on union matters. I do understand the agency's need to do something in view of your traffic infraction of crossing over the yellow line, no matter how slight the crossing and/or no oncoming traffic at the time.
Buses, as you are aware, are huge, heavy and capable of great damage. It matters not to your agency that there was no oncoming traffic THIS time. They are looking at the big picture
and want to ensure you and all the other drivers know that crossing the yellow line or committing any traffic violation at any time is not acceptable/safe and will result in consequences.
The cameras serve two important functions. As you've seen, they protect drivers from untrue allegations like those of the bicyclist. Secondly, because supervisors can't ride along with every driver to assess driving habits, safety, treatment of customers, etc, the cameras provide important feedback to better evaluate staff job performance.
Given the above, I don't think the agency was being unfair. My guess is that they have suspended you, with pay, to give themselves time to further review you and your driving.
Perhaps they will be looking at camera tapes from other days to see if you have done this before or perhaps committed other traffic violations.
My suggestion is to wait and see what the final outcome is. You are off work with pay while they make a final decision. At this point, you've lost nothing and are in a waiting pattern. Enjoy the time off. Once they let you know what the ultimate punishment will be, you can decide if it is worth it at that point to pursue a grievance, ask for a meeting and/or explore other options.
Take care. I wish you well.
Alice J. Bogert