• Board of Mediation and Arbitration
  • Board of Mediation and Arbitration
  • 2012-A-0428
  • Mar 24 2013 (Date Decided)
  • Diaz, Silvers and Melita

A senior worker who is discharged may not be allowed to bump into another position, if the senior worker is not qualified. In or about 1993, the Stamford Housing Authority hired Sandra Thompson, and she worked as a clerk typist. In 2011, Thompson was discharged, because of budget concerns. The union filed a grievance and argued that the employer should have permitted Thompson, who possessed seniority, to work as a receptionist. The employer claimed that Thompson was not qualified to work as a receptionist, because she did not speak Spanish fluently. The union objected that the housing authority previously waived that job requirement and that Thompson routinely served as a  receptionist when the regular receptionist was away on vacation. Allegedly, Thompson had successfully assisted clients who spoke Spanish, French Creole, Chinese, Italian, Russian  and other languages.  The collective bargaining contract provides, "Any laid off employee may exercise the right to bump a less senior employee in a lower classification, provided the employee is capable of performing the required work." Arbitrators credited the employer's claim that the language requirement was reasonable, because more than half of the clients speak Spanish. Thompson admitted that she was required to request help from workers who speak Spanish, in order to assist clients who speak Spanish. Thompson failed to establish she was qualified to work as a receptionist, and arbitrators denied the grievance. Bernard Jacques represented the employer, and Wayne Marshall represented the union.