BOSTON (CBS) – The company contracted to operate the commuter rail system for the MBTA is being accused of discrimination by several former employees. The workers say they were unjustly fired for swiping co-workers’ time cards; a practice they claim was commonplace within the company.
The I-Team obtained surveillance video inside a Keolis facility showing several employees punching out time cards for other employees. Nine workers were fired last July, including Joe Mazzochia. The I-Team’s Cheryl Fiandaca asked Mazzochia if he did anything wrong. Joe replied, “I wasn’t doing anything anyone else wasn’t doing.”
Mazzochia and his fired co-workers say dozens of other employees were doing the very same thing and none of them were fired. According to Mazzochia’s attorney, Sol Cohen, the surveillance video shows one worker swiping four cards through the time clock machine. “She received a written warning,” he said.
According to Cohen, of the nine workers fired, seven were over 50 years old. “This is a case of age discrimination. The employees in their 50s were terminated for something that has gone on for many years and was pervasive in the company and management was well aware,” he said.
The fired workers say they have dozens of years of experience working for the railroad and have never been disciplined. So why would they be singled out? “Our age, our time invested. It was money,” Mazzochia said.
According to Mazzochia, employees swiping cards for their colleagues was an accepted practice that was well known to management. He admits the video does show him swiping his card and another employee’s card, but he insists he and the other worker both put in a full day. Mazzochia insists he never stole time from Keolis.
According to Cohen, the punishment in this case did not fit the crime. “It’s a breach of policy that doesn’t nearly justify a termination, especially employees who worked their entire lives on the railroad,” he said.
Keolis insists age was not a factor in terminating the employees. In a written statement a spokesperson said:
“Any suggestion that Keolis somehow tolerated or was aware of widespread timecard abuse beyond the nine terminated individuals is false.”
In a separate email the spokesperson also said: “…each of the nine employees was afforded an evidentiary hearing where they were defended by his/her respective union representative had the right to call witnesses and to introduce evidence in defense. Each of the hearings resulted in a finding that the employee was guilty of time fraud and resulted in termination.”
Fiandaca pressed Mezzochia if there was any wrongdoing. “People think you stole time from Keolis,” she said. “And we didn’t,” he replied. “All we want is our jobs back.”
The fired workers are filing a claim with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.