UPS Driver Termination Snowballs Into 250 Employees — is this Retaliation?
Jairo Reyes was a UPS driver in New York for 24 years when he was fired for clocking in early to his shifts. The company claims that Mr. Reyes lied about the hours he worked to accumulate unearned overtime. Mr. Reyes claims his manager gave him verbal permission to start his shift early. The manager later denied Reye’s assertions. He was discharged on February 14th, 2014 — after multiple warnings, according to UPS, and with no previous warnings, according to Mr. Reyes.
Reyes claims that UPS terminated his employment in retaliation for filing an hours grievance just days prior to the Valentine’s Day firing. In addition, his union representative at Teamsters Local 804 asserts that the company violated its labor contract. Under the contract’s “innocent until proven guilty” provision, the company must allow discharged employees to continue working until a hearing involving UPS and union officials is held to address the allegations. Instead, UPS security personnel escorted Mr. Reyes off the premises and took his employee ID card immediately upon firing him.
A meeting conducted on February 26 at his former workplace upheld Mr. Reyes’ discharge. About 250 of his colleagues walked out in protest to the unjust decision in the moments after the meeting’s conclusion. The 90-minute spontaneous protest ended when the workers complied with an order to return to their posts.
This case raises several questions that may indicate wrongdoing on the part of the employer, including the following:
- Was Mr. Reyes’ termination retaliation for filing a grievance?
- Did UPS violate the union contract when the company barred Mr. Reyes from work before holding a hearing to review his termination?
- Is UPS allowed to discharge the 250 protesting workers for speaking out about an alleged mistreatment of their colleague?
- Even if the union contract did not expressly approve strike as a conflict resolution method, does this clause prevent spontaneous demonstrations of protest by workers?
New York City Controller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James attended a press conference about the situation and urged UPS to rehire its terminated employees. So far, the company has held firm, pitting workers and their unions against big business.