Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise v. Christison
Even if an employee previously received "outstanding" job performance reviews, the Board of Review may lack authority to reinstate the worker, if the worker continued to violate company policy after receipt of written warnings. In June 2013, a Foxwoods Casino manager allegedly discovered an unattended grounds truck in the bus loading zone with the keys in the ignition. An employee, Susan Christison, allegedly returned to the truck and admitted that she left the truck unattended, in order to ask about Six Flags tickets. Foxwoods Casino discharged Christison, who had worked as an interior grounds attendant. The Board of Review reinstated Christison subject to a final warning, because she previously received "outstanding" job performance reviews and her work day was almost finished. The Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise appealed. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court found that the decision to reinstate was inappropriate. "[B]eing out of authorized work areas during working hours" violates a standard of conduct. Department rules provide, "Employees are not to leave their assigned work area unless advised to by their Supervisor or going on a scheduled break." Although Christison claimed that she finished all her job duties, before she left her assigned work area near the end of her work day, Christison admitted that she failed to leave during a scheduled break or to call her manager, to obtain permission. Foxwoods possessed just cause to discharge, because Christison left her assigned work area. Previously, Christison had received two written warnings for departing from her assigned work area. "Management does not need to give employees unlimited chances," wrote the court, "especially when their conduct could result in legal liability." Christison failed to establish mitigating circumstances existed. Although she suffers from high blood pressure, there was no evidence that her unscheduled break was connected to her medical condition. The Board of Review is allowed to decide whether conduct took place that violated a policy or procedure and whether mitigating circumstances existed. The board exceeded its power when it reinstated Christison because she previously received "outstanding" job performance reviews. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court reversed the decision of the Board of Review.