Vista Nuevas Head Start

129 Lab. Arb. Rep. 1519 (2011)

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Vista Nuevas Head Start

Labor Arbitration
129 Lab. Arb. Rep. 1519 (2011)

Facts

Vista Nuevas Head Start (Vista Nuevas) (defendant) was a preschool. A Vista Nuevas teacher, a member of a union (plaintiff), created a private Facebook group in which she and three other Vista Nuevas employees wrote complaints about work experiences. The posts were profane and race-based, and some were arguably threats against others in the workplace. A Vista Nuevas manager became aware of the posts because the husband of one of the group’s members discovered them via the Facebook account he shared with his wife. The manager shared the posts with members of a parent policy committee, the approval of which was required to terminate an employee. When confronted, the teacher initially denied any knowledge of the Facebook page before saying that the page was private and not meant to be shared. The teacher said that she would delete the page if necessary. Vista Nuevas had no social-media-use policy at the time of the events, although it later adopted one. Vista Nuevas was also subject to regulations to maintain an appropriate environment for its students. Vista Nuevas terminated the teacher and one of her coworkers who was a part of the Facebook group. Two grievances followed. The coworker’s termination was reduced to a 10-day suspension in a separate arbitration proceeding. In this proceeding, the union argued that the conduct was off-duty and unrelated to the teacher’s work inside the classroom. Vista Nuevas responded that the conduct related to the workplace and that it supported a just-cause finding for the teacher’s termination.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (VanDagens, Arbitrator)

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