The Grievant, received a three-day unpaid suspension based upon two distinct reasons, (1) for allegedly ignoring a direct order to attend an investigatory interview on September 28, 2021, and (2) for allegedly failing to secure and properly account for inmate funds. The arbitrator held that the employer, the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office (NSO), despite the calling ten witnesses, failed to meet their burden of proof for both allegations and rescinded the three-day suspension in its entirety.
In rescinding the suspension at issue, the arbitrator relied upon the fact that an employee must receive clear notice of both what the employer expects as well as the range of penalties that may be imposed for failing to meet the employer’s expectations.
The arbitrator also relied on the premise that once discipline for a given offence is impose, it cannot thereafter be increased. (How Arbitration Works Elkouri (Ch 15.3.F.vi: Double Jeopardy). Here, the Grievant was specifically informed that if she violated the order to attend a second investigatory interview on September 29th she would be placed on unpaid leave, not suspended.
Concerning the second allegation, that the Grievant allegedly failed to secure and properly account for inmate funds, the arbitrator again found that NSO had failed to meet their burden of proof. Specifically, the arbitrator held that there was no evidence that the Grievant was on notice that inmate funds must be counted by hand. Further, the evidence established that there was no policy that otherwise required inmate funds to be counted by hand or that the Grievant had otherwise been instructed by a supervisor to do so prior to the incident in question.