This question is on my dads behalf.... He has been a full-time firefighter for almost 40 years and is part of a union. He is 66 years old and all of a sudden 3 weeks ago he went to work to find a letter on his desk stating he had to go to an appointment in 5 days and he HAD to go and that his shift would be covered and he had the day off with pay to go to the appointment. My dad had no idea what it was about and when he went to the appointment he asked the doctor why he was there and they said it was for his short term memory. As of today my dad has not signed anything or has he been able to talk to any one like the Chief or City manager.....no one will talk to him. He did contact his Union steward over a week ago and he has not heard nothing from him either. Today my day gets a letter stating he is suspended from work because the doctor that did his short term memory test said he is not fit to work until the results are in. My dad went to his primary doctor last week and he stated my dad is clear to work but the City wont have nothing to do with that letter. What should he do and whats his rights as being a union worker? Its obvious the City is trying to push him out so but is this legal or not? Please help me out with some information. Thanks.......this is killing my dad and he is besides himself because this is not how he wanted to retire.
Couple things TJ.
Does the dept he is currently onhave a max age limit? I'm guessing not considering he is still working and given his age, but could be a factor.
Where did the letter come from notifying him of this? Was this signed by the chief, or was there a co-sign with the union? I'm guessing this came from management, but do you/he know if the union was notified of this decision for the appt prior to going?
Did he contact the union prior to going?
Was the doctor he saw the dept doctor, or was this more of a specialist? Did his regular doctor do anything different? Was there a second opinion available to obtain?
Here is the issue I see from the union side of things, coming from a union steward. First and foremost, the question is does this impact wages, hours, and working conditions. IMO, it is pretty gray because there are two sides the union has an obligation to, one, him, the member, but also the members working with him. If there are issues when it comes to perhaps short term memory, this does impact the working conditions of the members he works with as well. I'm just saying this to provide some perspective on what is to be looked at.
You said he contacted his steward, but has not heard back in over a week. Hard to say what the circumstances the steward is facing, but when it comes to medical issues, there is very limited aspects to go on. Since health care issues are considered personal and private, it may be very hard to get any records or info to pursue an investigation. If the dept/city is the one asking him to go, there is a possibility the city/dept may be privvy to some info, that the union can not see because of the medical nature. This seems to be a fine line here and just because he hasn't heard back, doesn't mean the union isn't doing something either.
Since this is also a medical issue, there may be limited means in which the union can take at this point to protect his job. Unfortunately he already went to the appointment, but he should have informed the union steward or principle officers of this before even going on the appointment. There could have been more done for him at the time.
As a union guy, my advice to him from here on out is to request union representation at any and all proceedings from this point further. It is his right to have a union official present for any questioning or proceedings, don't have him sit in any meetings with management without one. The other aspect would be to have him contact his steward and principle officers (President, VP, Sec/Treas) to request legal counsel if the local has a retainor with a lawyer. If there is no retainor, he may want to look into looking for his own attorney if he plans to fight things.
Personally, I don't know if there is much to do from this point. I don't know what his contract says, I don't know dept policy, I don't know the medical/health screenings. This is a fine line subject that goes beyond simple union rep aspects and does involve more than one person. Biggest advice would be for him to request union involvement on every step from here on out, and management may even prefer that considering the issue. I would advise that he doesn't contact anyone in management (chief/city manager/HR) personally either....be it phone, email, in person, without talking with his rep first.
If you want to discuss this in private send a message to my inbox.
They do not have a max age, I know that for sure. The Union knew nothing of this testing at all until my dad came to them. Also yes his primary doctor did do different testing on him and know the City does not have their own doctor and the doctor that did the short term memory test was only a psychiatrist who only asked questions to find his results and as a family we have never seen any short term memory problems with him.
Not too much more to say on this other than what I orginally posted. Since there is a medical aspect involved, there may be difficulty for the union in obtaining results due to privacy issues. The other aspect is since this is considered a medical issue, the city may not be privy to the full results other than just the Dr's recomendation.
It is hard to say too much more without knowing what is in the contract, physicals, etc. However, there may be some avenues to look into as well that your father may want to prompt his union officials on.
First thing would be the request of a second opinion with perhaps costs being pcked up by the city, or even the union. I would say city because the union could push the issue of bias from the one doctor.
The second thing he should ask the union to look into would be any Past Practice and if there were similar dismissals in the past. If so, what were the outcomes, if not, it may give more credance to have another opinion. Although such costs for a second opinion may have to be incurred by your father, but if his own Dr questions the results, that gives conflicting reports. I would also have him ask about having an MRI for a more inclusive test as opposed to a Q and A session with a psychologist.
Another thing is your father should be able to request the medical results from the doctor since he was the pt and should be privy to the results. Of which he can do what he wants with the results, thus making it easier for the union to make a case.
In the end though, it is hard to say for sure what may happen or if the avenues would be fruitful in remaining on the job, the contract may or may not contain language that can be useful here. Management typically has rights regarding medical/dept physicals and provider, second opinions may or may not be accepted.
IMO, I would prompt him to look into those aspects with the help of the union. However, he should be prepared that if he really wants to fight this, he may have to hire an attorney on his own costs.
I doubt you'll get real useful answers here as the circumstances are so very specific to your father, his department, his union, their contract (if any), his doctor, the department doctor, etc, etc, etc.