Chicago Tribune Co.

119 Lab. Arb. Rep. 1007 (2003)

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Chicago Tribune Co.

Labor Arbitration
119 Lab. Arb. Rep. 1007 (2003)

Facts

Under an agreement between a union (plaintiff) and the Chicago Tribune Company (Tribune) (defendant), Tribune would terminate employees for having nine tardy occurrences in a single calendar year. Additionally, failing to notify a supervisor of a tardy occurrence more than an hour before the scheduled start time counted as two tardy occurrences. However, time off work for qualifying reasons under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) did not count as a tardy occurrence. W. was a press operator at Tribune. By December 2002, W. had seven tardy occurrences during that calendar year. W.’s mother was seriously ill. One day, W. took her mother to the hospital until midnight for a medical issue. When W. returned home, she fell asleep with her one-year-old child. W. woke up 10 minutes before her 6:00 a.m. shift and called a supervisor, who told her to come to work. Tribune managers gave W. FMLA forms to fill out regarding her mother’s condition, which she completed and submitted. W. also explained what had happened regarding her mother’s hospital visit. But Tribune terminated W.’s employment. Tribune provided shifting reasons for the termination, which included that (1) W. had run out of eligible FMLA leave, (2) oversleeping was not a valid qualifying reason under the FMLA, and (3) W. failed to provide sufficient FMLA documentation. A grievance followed. The parties disputed whether the termination was supported by just cause.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Nathan, Arbitrator)

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