Judge Orders Reinstatement of New Bedford Employee Fired for Violence
NEW BEDFORD — The Bristol County Superior Court has upheld a union decision ordering the reinstatement of a New Bedford Housing Authority employee who was fired for violent behavior.
In a Feb. 23 decision, Justice Jackie Cowin confirmed a union arbitrator's award reinstating Brian Andrade to his position as a maintenance aide with the city housing authority.
Andrade had been fired after police had to be called to an authority office to remove him during an altercation in 2021.
His termination took place following what the housing authority called an "egregious pattern of misconduct" that included multiple instances of violent threats against coworkers.
On at least two occasions, Andrade was found to have provoked incidents that "came close to escalating into physical conflicts," with his behavior resulting in coworkers "asking not to be assigned to work with him," Cowin noted in the decision.
But after Andrade appealed his termination, a union arbitrator found that despite "serious misconduct" on his part, he should have been suspended and given a final warning instead.
The New Bedford Housing Authority sued the union — Massachusetts Public Employee Council Local Union 367 — over the arbitrator's decision, which ordered Andrade's reinstatement without back pay.
According to the NBHA, requiring Andrade's reinstatement could endanger their other employees and "would create a hostile work environment," the authority wrote in the complaint.
Cowin decided in favor of the union because although Andrade's conduct justified his termination, it did not require it — thus leaving the decision up to the arbitrator.
"Whether this Court agrees with the result or not is irrelevant," Cowin wrote in the decision. "There are insufficient grounds to vacate the Award."