Metro Transit bus driver who was fired following sex crime charge gets reinstated by arbitrator
On February 12, a Metro Transit bus driver was at work when he was placed under arrest by Metro Transit Police and held on behalf of Plymouth authorities. He was later charged with criminal sexual contact. One of his bail conditions specified he was barred from having any unsupervised contact with minors.
On March 1, Metro Transit informed the driver that he was going to lose his job because of the aforementioned bail condition, which officials claimed made it impossible for the driver to fulfill his duties. But in a recent ruling, an arbitrator sided with the driver's union and determined Metro Transit overstepped its bounds in firing him.
In his ruling, arbitrator Anthony Orman points out that had the driver been able to post the full bail amount, he would've been released without conditions of any sort -- the implication being that it's wrong for him to lose his job simply because he was short on funds.
Furthermore, in a hearing held about two weeks after Metro Transit informed the driver of his impending termination, a judge modified his release conditions to state (emphasis ours), "No contact with children under 18 except if operating Metro Transit bus equipped with GPS and video monitoring and fares on bus."
Considering the revised bail conditions, "the Judge and the Prosecutor felt that the [driver] was not a threat to the public, including children under the age of 18 while [he] was operating a bus," the arbitrator's ruling states. "Based on the evidence presented the Judge made a decision. It was clearly the intent of the Court to return [the driver] to work."
Put it together and even though the arbitrator acknowledged the driver was charged with a "heinous crime," he concluded that Metro Transit "did not follow its own policies and procedures and therefore... finds [that Metro Transit] failed to meet just cause."
"The [driver] shall be reinstated to employment immediately," the ruling concludes. He "shall receive all pay and benefits back to March 14, 2013 and in all ways made whole."
Dorothy Maki, vice president of Amalgamated Transit Union 1005, told City Pages that while the union makes decisions about whether to pursue arbitration on a case-by-case basis, in general, the union's policy echoes a line in the arbitrator's ruling -- after the driver in question was charged, "The Union's position was the [driver] should be allowed to prove his innocence and not be fired."
Maki said she doesn't believe the driver in question still drives for Metro Transit. Asked if that's because he was eventually convicted of a crime, Maki declined further comment and referred us to another union official who worked more directly on the case. That official hasn't yet gotten back to us.
The name of the driver and the specific nature of the charges against him aren't disclosed in the arbitrator's ruling, which you can read in full here.
h/t -- Jonathan Blake
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