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Florida Employment Arbitration A Win-Win According to Arbitration Act

Tuesday, December, 27, 2011

An employment arbitration settlement in Brooksville, Florida was declared a victory by both sides. James Beck, an employee of Hernando County Utilities Office, was rehired by the county as part of a settlement in accordance to the Federal Arbitration Act. However, he will be working in a different department than he was in before he was fired.

The Controversy That Led to Arbitration

The stated reason that Hernando County fired Beck was that he had left out a brief stint as a substitute teacher for the Hernando County school system in his job application. He believed it was irrelevant, and this discrepancy was not revealed until five years later.46 out of 116 employees at the utilities office signed a petition that accused Beck of disruption and ruining employee morale. Beck was the union steward at the office, and the Teamsters contended that he was pointing out violations of the rules and safety violations. The union also contended that this activity irritated the management and nonunion employees. It is worth noting that none of the signers of the petition were union members, and there was a reported divide between union and nonunion employees at the facility.

Further investigation into Beck's background revealed that he had been fired from the school job due to “physical contact and language used with a student.”

Results of the Employment Arbitration

James Brady, who mediated the arbitration, decided that Beck's background was relevant to the dispute, as it provided evidence of disciplinary problems along similar lines of the petition's complaint. He also acknowledged that this was grounds for firing him, but deemed it too severe since the county did not properly vet the application.

The decision was ultimately that Beck should be rehired, but in a different department, and without back-pay for the duration of his unemployment. He also recommended that Beck not be a Teamster's steward until he learned communications skills.