Fired After Arbitration Hearing. What Now?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being fired after arbitration failed:

I’m a government employee. I was recently fired after an arbitration hearing. An agreement was not reached, but the day after the meeting, management came to me and informed me I was fired. I was told to pack my stuff and my manager said she would escort me out of the building. I have contacted my union. I’m also eight months from my retirement. What can I do legally? My issues with my immediate supervisor have been an ongoing, never-ending battle.

Signed, Pushed Out

Dear Pushed Out:

You should work through an attorney if you feel something illegal occurred–and if your union assists you they may provide an attorney on your behalf. If they will not assist you, you may need to consult an attorney on your own. One way to do that is to ask for a free review of your situation to see if you have a case. Look on the Internet or phone book for attorneys who specialize in labor issues. Your union may have someone to recommend.Even if you are not able to retain your job, you will want to find out your status as it relates to retirement payments and get those started as soon as possible. You can do that on your own by contacting HR, or have an attorney or other representative do it for you.If you talk to an attorney or your union, you will need to be honest and open with that person about exactly what occurred or what you were told about it. .

Here are the likely the questions they will want you to answer:1.) What was the reason given for your dismissal? Is there any paperwork? 2.) If the reason had to do with behavior, had you ever been warned about it?3.) What did the battle with your supervisor involve? 4.) Had you taken action to comply with the directions or requests of your supervisor? 5.) Did you have similar problems with any other supervisors? 6.) If the problem had to do with your work performance or compliance with rules, had you been warned about that before? 7.) For the last year or two, did your annual evaluations refer to a problem? Or, were they very positive, without giving you any indication there was something you should change or improve? 8.) Have you ever been on a Performance Improvement Plan? If so, what was the result? 9.) Did something new happen that was given as the reason for firing? Did something happen that you had been told would be cause for firing, if it happened again? 10.)

Do you have coworkers who are willing to be witnesses about anything that might help show you were fired unfairly?Those are the kind of things that make a difference when a union or attorney considers whether or not you have a case against an employer. If your manager came to your desk and escorted you from the building, you can bet she had approval for that all the way up to your agency’s headquarters. The fact that you are so close to retirement makes me think that something specific happened that was considered a serious violation of rules concerning behavior or performance.

Even though you had just had an arbitration hearing, a employer can fire an employee if something else happens that justifies dismissal. For example, in a situation with which I am familiar, an employee had been directed to stop making negative and rude remarks about a supervisor and two other employees. The remarks were the result of ongoing problems related to work, alleged gossiping and lack of cooperation. She had received a final warning about such behavior and had said she wouldn’t say anything bad if others stopped talking about her also. Human Resources suggested that it might be helpful for me to do some mediation work to try to reduce the bad feelings that had resulted from the overall problem. I met with the employee first, to interview her. She told me that it was all unfair and that she had tried to get along with everyone but was being treated unfairly. I felt she was being a bit untruthful about her role in the problem, but I could see her viewpoint about some things as well. I had her role-play the other people and to talk about it from their viewpoints, which she said she found helpful.After our interview she left the room and went to the break room where she started talking badly about the supervisor–even going so far as to call her a couple of obscene names–and saying she hoped I would see what a liar the supervisor and the other employees were. An employee reported her and the supervisor went to the manager, who called their headquarters and received approval to request a dismissal. I was told to continue my mediation interviews while the situation was being reviewed by the manager, working with HR. I had finished two more interviews in the next week when I received an email that the employee had been fired so no further mediation work was needed. She appealed the firing to a review board, who upheld it based on the fact that she had received several warnings previously and had been told the last one was a final warning before dismissal. So, even though we were in the midst of mediation to try to resolve the conflict, she was fired due to a violation of the rules.That may not be at all similar to your situation. I just mentioned it to show that a dismissal can take place anytime it can be shown that it can be justified–and those up the chain of command agree.I’m very sorry all of this is happening. I wish I had something to suggest that could make for a good conclusion. Your best assistance now will be the union and/or an attorney, plus a set of facts to support you.Best wishes to you with this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.