A bus driver in Gainesville, Florida, was awarded her job back in addition to three years worth of back pay. The woman was terminated by her employer in 2015 after acts that were deemed to be immoral and had a negative impact on the community. In both instances, the woman claimed that she was defending herself against passengers who had become physically aggressive with her.
The city eventually determined that she had violated the city’s zero tolerance policy for violence or instigating fights. In 2016, the woman and her employer went to arbitration in an effort to resolve the matter. The arbiter sided with the bus driver, saying that she had been treated unfairly. Typically, bus drivers only received suspensions or counseling after negative interactions with passengers. However, that ruling was eventually reversed, and the union appealed that decision.
A judge again ruled in favor of the bus driver saying that the arbitration hearing fell within the scope of the collective bargaining agreement. Therefore, the decision rendered in arbitration could not be overruled. It is unlikely that the case can be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. However, it is also not clear if the city is going to allow the woman to continue working as a bus driver. The attorney for the plaintiff in the case says that she would like to return if allowed to do so.
Florida workers who have been terminated without sufficient cause often believe that they have been the victim of a wrongful discharge. People who find themselves in such a position might want to meet with an attorney in order to learn what rights they might have.