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Carla is a waitress at an upscale five-star restaurant in New Brunswick, NJ. She is represented by the United Waitress and Waiters Union, Local 601. One evening, several hours into a particularly busy shift, she encounters a customer who complains loudly that his meal is overcooked, his wine tastes like gasoline and the service is lousy.
After drinking several glasses of the wine, the customer shouts at Carla, You are a (expletive) idiot. Having reached her boiling point, Carla empties the remaining contents of the customers half-eaten dish on the customers lap after yelling loudly, How do you like the food now? Just about everyone in the crowded restaurant hears the commotion and the complaining customer, embarrassed by the experience, runs out. Carlas supervisor and two coworkers witnessed the entire altercation. Carlas supervisor calls Carla into his office and discharges Carla for her role in the incident.
The Union files a grievance and argues that discharge was too harsh a penalty given the customers drunken, aggressive and unacceptable behavior. Besides, the Union representative argues, Carla was never warned that this type of conduct could result in discharge, Carla had a blemish-free employment record for the nine years that she waitressed in the restaurant and last year a bartender at the restaurant got into a shouting match with a customer who also drank too much and only received a three-day unpaid suspension. On top of that, similar to Carlas situation, the bartender poured a glass of beer on the drunken patron.

Using the seven tests of just cause listed below, analyze this case based upon all of the facts that have been presented and briefly list your thoughts supporting your opinion. As far as the award is concerned, as the arbitrator you have the following choices to choose from:
a) Reinstate Carla with full back pay since the employer lacked just cause for the discharge
b) Reinstate Carla with no back pay since her actions cannot be tolerated but the employer acted improperly by ordering termination
c) Deny the grievance and support managements decision because no employer should have to tolerate such crude behavior towards a customer by an employee.

Select the remedy that you feel best supports your opinion in this case.
The Seven Tests of Just Cause:
1) Was the employee forewarned of the consequences of his or her actions?
2) Are the employers rules reasonably related to business efficiency and performance the employer might reasonably expect from the employee?
3) Was an effort made before discharge to determine whether the employee was guilty as charged?
4) Was the investigation conducted fairly and objectively?
5) Did the employer obtain substantial evidence of the employees guilt?
6) Were the rules applied fairly and without discrimination?
7) Was the degree of discipline reasonably related to the seriousness of the employees offense and the
employees past record?

 

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