Thursday, September 09, 2010
Letter of Reprimand Issued to FacRep Overturned
This case concerns the agency’s decision to issue a letter of reprimand to an FAA employee for “disrespectful and inappropriate conduct and/or remarks that are insulting, abusive and conduct unbecoming” after his involvement in a security investigation at an FAA facility. The grievant, in this instance, is also the facility rep and was informed by management that union representation would be denied to him and all of the members of the bargaining unit during the security investigation after it was requested. During the grievant’s interview, he believed that his contractual rights were being violated, as well as that of the bargaining unit employees that had been interviewed, and he questioned the Security Agency about the nature of the investigation and whether it was in compliance with Article 6 of the CBA. The grievant also questioned the security agent about signing the statement she had prepared for him because it was inaccurate. In issuing the letter of reprimand, the agency relied on the observations of the air traffic manager who stated that he had heard the exchange between the grievant and the security agent, and that the grievant was being abusive, and that it was not a “reasonable” discussion.
In issuing its decision, the arbitrator found that the evidence supported the fact that the agency knowingly violated Article 6, Section 1 of the CBA. Although the arbitrator conceded that the grievant did ask questions pertaining to the interview, he did not find the grievant’s behavior to be “inappropriate” or “abusive” as the agency alleged. The arbitrator made this determination based on a variety of factors. First, the arbitrator found that the grievant did not swear or curse at the security agent, nor did he physically threaten her. The arbitrator also relied on the testimony of the security agent who stated that she could have ended the interview at any time, but did not; nor did she bring someone else into the room during the interview although this was an option as well. The arbitrator found that the agency’s position regarding the events in question were not credible since there were no other witnesses in the room at the time the discussion took place between the security agency and the grievant, and because the ATM’s statement that the grievant was being abusive was refuted by another witnesses’ testimony. The agency’s position was also undermined since the ATM who characterized the grievant’s behavior as “abusive” during the investigation took no action to assist the security agent during the course of the discussion.
The arbitrator observed the demeanor of the grievant during the hearing and found him to be “knowledgeable, effective, well-spoken, polite, and respectful.” He also found his testimony to be precise, truthful and credible and, as a result, sustained the grievance in full and ordered that the agency immediately expunge the letter of reprimand and any and all documents related to it from the grievant’s personnel records and from the agency’s system of records.