City of Groton and UE Local 222, CIPU, Local 8
A municipality has just cause to suspend a worker who allegedly acts inappropriately and unprofessionally. Allegedly, Police Officer Keith Turgeon complained at a meeting at work that if he discovered who was eating his private stash of peanuts, which he kept in his desk drawer, that he would "f------ shoot" the individual. One of the detectives believed that Detective Turgeon was looking at him when he made the statement, and he complained to human resources. The city investigated. Other officers confirmed that Turgeon allegedly threatened to shoot the next person who took his peanuts, although some did not recall whether Turgeon directed his comment to any particular individual. Turgeon claimed that he could not remember precisely what he said. The city suspended Turgeon for five days, because his alleged comments were inappropriate and unprofessional, and because Turgeon previously had acted inappropriately when he allegedly had thrown his weapon into a desk drawer, slammed the drawer and cussed. The city did not find that Turgeon violated the zero violence in the workplace policy. The union filed a grievance and argued that police officers sometimes jokingly threaten each other or send each other offensive messages on their computers. Arbitrators found that some discipline was merited, because Turgeon had a past history of inappropriate conduct, and that a five-day suspension was overly harsh. Arbitrators reduced the suspension to three days. David Ryan represented the municipality, and Valerie Woodruff and Eugene Elk represented the union.