4/24/2007New Jersey Supreme Court Reinstates Toll Booth Gunman
A New Jersey Supreme Court ruling reinstated a toll booth worker who had fired a paintball gun at another motorist.
The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the New Jersey Turnpike Authority could not fire a toll collector who had fired a paintball gun at a car while off-duty. Jason Glassey had been a toll collector for the Garden State Parkway in November 2003. While driving home from work in uniform, Glassey -- on medication at the time -- became "a little annoyed" by a white van dawdling in the left lane of the freeway. He passed the van.
"In a moment of anger, and extreme stupidity, I grabbed the paintball gun and fired several shots at the passenger window," Glassey admitted.
Four shots hit the van belonging to Jorge Morales. Morales summoned a state trooper who caught Glassey and charged him with possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and interference with transportation. Glassey was later found guilty.
The Toll Authority suspended Glassey for violating its code of conduct and displaying "a flagrant disregard for the personal property and safety of Garden State Parkway customers."
A labor union challenged the suspension and the question was put before an arbitrator who sided with the union and said Glassey deserved reinstatement. Lower courts split on whether the reinstatement was valid. The state Supreme Court, however, insisted that upholding the principle of finality in an arbitration decision is more important than questioning the quality of individual decisions. It ordered Glassey's reinstatement in accordance with the arbitrator's original decision.
"That result fosters the expectation of finality in labor arbitration, improves the stability of employee-employer relations, and reaffirms New Jersey's long-standing tradition of deference to arbitration awards," the high court concluded.
A full copy of the court's decision is available in a 72k PDF file at the source link below.