Town of Stratford and UPSEU, Local Dispatchers
A municipality may discharge a worker who allegedly violates the terms of a last-chance agreement. In April 2008, the Town of Stratford suspended Keely Spada, who worked as a municipal dispatcher, as a result of conduct that allegedly was rude, unprofessional and insubordinate. Spada signed a last chance agreement that indicated that additional acts of insubordination or negative or insulting remarks could result in immediate discharge. Allegedly, residents of Stratford complained about Spada, and the municipality issued a written warning in December 2010. A co-worker, Tracey Iannucci, complained about Spada, and she signed a document that stated that in the future she would handle herself professionally. Dispatcher Laura Fee also filed a complaint alleging that Spada was belligerent and allegedly stated, "If she punches a fire card, I'm going to punch her." Fee maintained that Spada threatened her with physical injury and created a hostile-work environment. Dispatcher Jeremy Moore confirmed certain of the allegations in Fee's complaint and wrote that the alleged threats were not appropriate. In February 2011, the municipality discharged Spada, as a result of allegations that she violated the last chance agreement, harassed another worker, and was insubordinate and unprofessional. The union filed a grievance and argued that the alleged profanity and threats, if proven, did not violate the last-chance agreement and did not constitute misconduct or insubordination. The majority of arbitrators voted, 2-1, that the alleged conduct constituted harassment and was unprofessional and insubordinate. The majority found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the municipality possessed just cause to discharge. Owen Sullivan and Barbara Resnick represented the union, and Garrett Denniston represented the employer.