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Employment Law/Employer Disipline Excessive?


Hi Margeret
First of all thank you for providing this service. I am in Canada, but I think our countries are lwas are close enough that you would be able to provide an opinion.
I drive a city (un-named) transit bus. City policy is to investigate all complaints directed at city employees.
I was surprised to learn that I was the subject of a complaint and attended a disiplinary meeting today.
The complaintant alleged I had purposely hit his bycycle, called him a 'a' hole, and gave him the finger.
With a union rep. I watched the tape-we have cameras on board. None of what he said happened, I think I just startled him-he was wearing ear buds, and he proceeded to ride up to my window and verbally abuse me. He also stopped in front of my bus so I couldnt move, ansd purposely swerved over two lanes to impede my progress. My passengers were quite concerned. In fact if I was a cop I would have charged HIM.
Management viewed the tape, and it was their decision that although I did none of the things he alleged I had done:
1.I did let the 'f' word slip out once, berely audible, when he accosted me at the window-I was quit startled.
2.I crossed the yellow line partially as I attempted to pass him while he was blocking me from moving, which is a traffic violation.
So, on the basis of these two fairly minor  things that occured, which were not even  part of the original complaint, I am suspended with pay until further notice.
My question to you is, other than having my  union back me up, which they are, is there any legal recourse for me on the basis of damaging my reputation, and or recieving unwarranted disipline?
The union has a lawyer under retainer, but these things can take years,and I am so mad-this is my first 'offence-I feel like getting my own lawyer and pressing a civil suit. I am not a rich man but my aunt Margeret (what a coincidence) passed away recently, leaving me a bit of money, and he used to tell me to stand up for myself when I am in the right. She was a tough independant old bird!

Thanks again,sorry, for being so long winded, and God Bless Texas!
Hope your summer is good-ours is finally!

Barry - Unfortunately, you are governed almost entirely by the union contract.  Your rights are spelled out in the contract, and your union rep should be doing his or her best to get you reinstated.  Because the information about this isn't confidential, there is no privacy right belonging to you that has been violated.  Don't waste your Aunt's money on this.  Management can be arbitrary in disciplinary matters, which is why there are unions.  Without the union contract, here in the States you could be fired for this incident, whether or not you did anything wrong.  Canadians have more generous labor laws than we do, and they've come close to holding that you have a property interest in your job, meaning you must have due process before being deprived of it.  You seem to be receiving due process as a result of the contract.  

I know it is upsetting to be treated so unfairly, but for your own sake, try to let this go a little.  The stress isn't worth it.  Collect your pay, enjoy your time off, and consider this a learning experience.  Talk it out with friends so that you have some outlet for your feelings.   Practice saying something like "fudge" rather than the other "f" word so you are not caught by surprise again in public.  I have personally burned numerous bridges because I couldn't accept the injustice of a given situation, and it isn't a good move.

Best of luck with your hearings.  

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Margaret M. deMarteleire


I can answer most questions about employment law, federal or state. I am an attorney, not an HR professional, so questions about HR careers, coursework, prospects, etc. are not within my scope.


Attorney for 20 years, currently working exclusively with employment law - FLSA, FMLA, federal contracts, pay, etc.

Temple University School of Liberal Arts, BA, Rhetoric & Communication, 1982 Temple University School of Law, JD, 1990 Certificate in HR, Cornell University ILR School, 2006

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