Just cause: Seven tenets
Article 8, section 1, Discipline and Discharge, of the MAPE/State of Minnesota Agreement states:
“Disciplinary action may be imposed on employees only for just cause and shall be corrective where appropriate.”
Most of the grievances filed by unions on behalf of their members are disputes over the just cause principle as it applies to disciplining an employee. What does just cause mean?
In determining just cause an arbitrator searches for the reasonableness and fairness to any disciplinary action. Was the employer’s decision to discipline right and fundamentally fair? It is generally agreed that seven basic questions need to be answered in the affirmative in order for a proper disciplinary action to have taken place. A “no” answer to one or more of these questions can weaken an employer’s case.
Did the employer give the employee forewarning or previous knowledge of the possible consequences of the employee’s disciplinary conduct?
- IS THE RULE OR ORDER REASONABLE?
Were the employer’s rules or managerial orders reasonable and conducive to:
(a) the orderly, efficient, and safe operation of the employer’s business?
(b) the performance that the employer might properly expect of the employee?
Did the employer, before disciplining the employee, make an effort to determine if the employee violated or disobeyed a rule or order of management?
- FAIR INVESTIGATION
Was the employer’s investigation conducted objectively?
During the investigation did the employer discover substantial proof that the employee had violated the rule or order?
- EQUAL TREATMENT
Has the employer applied rules, orders, and penalties evenhandedly and without bias to all employees?
Was the discipline reasonably related to:
(a.) the seriousness of the employee’s proven offense?
(b.) the employee’s service record?