8/24/11: Chapter 293 won an arbitration this week on behalf of an SEC employee against whom the SEC's Division of Corporation Finance management retaliated for filing a grievance. The federal arbitrator found that the SEC had violated Article 32 of the parties' Collective Bargaining Agreement by retaliating against the employee for filing a grievance contesting the denial of his telework application.
This case is related to the arbitration that the Union won last February in which the same employee contested the denial of an application to participate in a recurring telework arrangement under the Expanded Telework Program, reported on here. CorCorpCorp Fin management claimed that it originally denied the employee's application because the nature of the employee's job required "frequent access to confidential information," and thus required the employee to be at Headquarters more frequently.
The day after the employee filed his step 3 grievance in that case, Corp Fin management delivered two documents to the employee which contained extremely critical comments about the employee's performance and reduced the time periods within which the employee was required to perform certain duties. The The federal arbitrator found that these negative statements were untrue and violated Article 32 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which sets forth an employee's right to use the negotiated grievance procedure and provides, in part:
The Employer will not restrain, interfere with, coerce, discriminate against, intimidate or engage in reprisal against an employee . . . for exercising rights under this Article.
The arbitrator determined that Corp Fin management issued these documents and altered the timeliness requirements for the employee's work in retaliation for filing the grievance, finding from the evidence that "the conclusion is inescapable that the Grievant's protected activity [filing the grievance] was a motivating factor in the Agency's counseling of the Grievant . . . and in reducing the time for the Grievant to [perform duties]." The arbitrator ordered the agency to rescind and remove the negative documents from the employee's personnel file, and also to restore annual leave that the employee was required to take due to the denial of the telework schedule. The arbitrator also requested that the parties file briefs on whether the SEC should be required to pay the Union's attorneys' fees in connection with this matter.
"This entire litigation was unnecessary.” Chapter 293 President Greg Gilman said today. "I continue to be perplexed as to why, at a law enforcement agency like the SEC, the management culture has any room whatsoever for these kinds of practices that are illegal and so hurtful to employee morale. We all deserve to expect more from our senior leaders.”