CRANSTON, RI — According to an arbitrator the Cranston School District
had "just cause" to fire a school custodian who was caught on tape tampering with a time clock, according to The Providence Journal.
The school committee fired Neal F. Emmett, 49, on August 24, 2009, after a videotape emerged that showed the head custodian at Western Hills Middle School
uncovering a time clock, setting the time ahead and punching out five time cards before resetting the time, the article stated.
Emmett — who had worked for the district for more than a decade — filed a grievance alleging he had not stolen time from the district and, in the alternative, that the punishment was too severe given that he had no previous reprimands, the article noted.
According to the article, Superintendent Peter L. Nero acknowledged Emmett''s previous performance saying he had been "an exemplary employee," but an arbitrator, Michael W. Stutz, found that Emmett''s actions amounted to a "capital offense in the workplace," which allowed the district to terminate him.
The district has not been able to identify the custodians whose cards Emmett had punched out early — one about a half-hour before the end of the shift, and four more 2½ hours ahead of time — or determine when the incident occurred, Nero said.
The incident was surreptitiously recorded and a copy of the video sent anonymously to WPRI-TV
, which later contacted the city, the article added.