A 22-year veteran courtroom clerk won a fair settlement after a contentious dispute with Santa Cruz County Superior Court over what we maintain was a wrongful termination.
Renee Rodriguez received a termination notice from the Court Executive Officer on New Year’s Eve. For four months, Renee struggled to make ends meet for her and her young children. The Court even contested her unemployment claim, but Renee prevailed.
“The Court said I had engaged in serious misconduct warranting termination, and they did not want to follow progressive discipline,” Renee said.
Our SEIU contract with the Court contains progressive discipline standards. Although an employer can immediately terminate in cases of very serious misconduct, a progressive disciplinary pattern generally starts with a warning for a first offense, a reprimand for a second offense, and suspensions for repeat offenses before finally resulting in termination. Our 521 Contract Enforcement Department is responsible for enforcing these standards.
In Renee’s case, our union maintained the Court had not met the standards to justify terminating her employment, especially given her long tenure and excellent work record. Our Contract Enforcement Department filed an appeal of the termination. But rather than wait for a neutral arbitrator to decide, the Court wanted to negotiate, and Renee agreed to accept a fair settlement.
Details of the settlement are confidential, but it avoids further conflict with the Court and allows Renee to get a fresh start.
Congratulations to Renee for standing up for her rights and winning a fair settlement!
“I enjoyed my working relationships with the judges and my co-workers at the Court, and I am grateful for having a strong union to support us. It’s really important that we always stand up for our rights.”