(CN) – A school janitor avoided losing his job for washing windows in a classroom where female students were changing clothes, thanks to a ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court.
The Linden Board of Education fired John Mizichko after he cleaned the windows of a classroom while girls were changing for an evening dance recital. He allegedly ignored the students’ pleas for him to leave and left only after a teacher intervened. Mizichko claimed he was unaware that the students were changing.
The Linden Education Association stepped in to save Mizichko’s job, and an arbitrator ruled that termination was too harsh of a penalty. He was suspended for 10 days instead.
The school board took the case to trial court, which upheld the decision. However, the New Jersey Court of Appeals overturned the ruling, finding that the arbitrator found just cause to fire Mizichko and therefore did not have the authority to issue a different ruling.
The case headed to the New Jersey Supreme Court, which ruled that the arbitrator had the authority to issue a 10-day suspension.
“The fair and reasonable interpretation of the decision of the arbitrator is that he found no just cause to terminate the employee,” Justice John Wallace Jr. wrote. “As directed by the parties, he then imposed an appropriate sanction … and did not exceed the limits of his authority.”