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Arbitrator Rules Firing Over Text Messaging Scandal Justified

Friday, March, 18, 2016

An arbitrator recently provided a 12-page opinion concerning a case regarding the termination of a Bay City employee. The employee filed a complaint stating she believes she was wrongfully terminated after 11 years of employment after being accused of inappropriate texting. The arbitrator ruled the firing was justified and the opinion will be used by Bay City when they meet with a judge later this year to discuss the case.


According to the documents released to the local newspaper, the arbitrator determined the firing was justified because the employee was shirking her responsibilities, and complained of and ignored some of her job duties. Her texts were sent to the manager of her department about the department head, and the city deemed the texts a “fifth degree offense,” which can result in termination.


The employee, who worked as an executive assistant for the Department of Public Works, is suing the city for wrongful termination and seeking damages in excess of $75,000. She argues the city violated her rights under the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act, which makes it illegal to discharge an employee or discriminate based on gender.


The employee’s union agrees she made inappropriate comments, but that she did not refuse direct orders. The union believes insubordination is not a proper finding in the case and that she should not have been terminated. The arbitrator called the case troublesome, and was concerned that the employee previously had only one written warning for attention to duty in 2012. The arbitrator still agreed the termination was warranted though, since the employee was the “right hand person” to the executive and should have understood what to do.