Thursday, March 18, 2010

WMATA: Now with Free Social Commentary


From J, who has been referred to WMATA's atrocious customer comment form:

Yesterday, on my commute home, the driver of my Metro bus saw something out his window (I was unable to see what.), shook his head, and decided to announce to everyone within earshot that "DC should have never legalized gay marriage."

As a gay resident of DC and a frequent Metro user, I find this type of behavior by a WMATA employee offensive and inexcusable. My taxes and fares pay to run Metro just like everyone else in this region, and I expect to utilize the services without fear of harassment, especially from the employees.

As if this wasn't bad enough, a few blocks later, after nearly hitting a jogger, the driver had the nerve to yell at the jogger out of his window.

Sadly, this happens all the time though and is just one small example of things I see every day. To be perfectly honest, I'm already over the incident, but it got me thinking about how, or if, it's worth my time to report things like this.

How do I report to WMATA (what information do I need to include? bus number, etc.) in order for a report to actually make it to an employee's file (or is that even possible?). We all know how hard it is to fire employees, so unless WMATA has a record of problems, little can be done.

Please answer the related poll over there on the left.

Other items:
"Fired" train operator had been on medical leave for 9 YEARS (Examiner)

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

good luck with your complaint, but that guy was voted wmata employee of the year.

Anonymous said...

How about the operators stick with safe driving and worry about gay marriage, health care and other topics at another time?

Anonymous said...

Good point. Maybe they will stop killing us pedestrians if they actually paid attention to what they are actually paid to do.

Anonymous said...

8:24...you're asking for too much!

Anonymous said...

So because the guy works for WMATA he loses his first Amendment rights?

Anonymous said...

I've gotten good results by contacting the manager of the Red line directly. This doesn't help the bus rider but all Metro lines have a manager. Find out who it is and email contact. Apply liberally. I've always gotten a response.

Anonymous said...

anon 9:58 if i started spouting off homophobic or racist speech at my job, i'd be canned ASAP.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure he said anything bad about anyone. He voiced an opinion on a political issue to which there are two sides. I think any of us could say we disagree with the decision in D.C. in the workplace without retribution as long as we didn't use hate speech, which the guy didn't. I'm not saying necessarily that he shouldn't have been focusing his attention elsewhere, but it's hardly a reason for reprimand.

Anonymous said...

@9:58 No, he doesn't lose his First Amendment rights, but it's certainly not part of his job to spout a homophobic diatribe over the system that is supposed to be used for announcements directly related to the operation of the vehicle. If he'd gone on there and said something racist or sexist, I bet people would be all over him for it.

I've complained via that comment form and gotten both positive feedback (3 years ago), but more recently (last summer, I think) I complained about a station manager and didn't even get a canned response.

hrh king friday xiii, ret. said...

As a gay man, whenever I hear a black person say that in my presence, I reply with:
"Yeah, I feel the same way about abolitionism."*

*the above comment is intended to be a facetious remark grounded in social satire and not to be taken literally.

Matt' said...

I have filed several complaints to WMATA in regards to bus service.

They're generally about something that can be fixed, like "the destination sign on the bus #xxxx running the R12 on Tuesday was frozen to 'Deanwood Station' despite the fact that it was going to New Carrollton. The bus driver made no attempt to clarify that the bus was actually going in the opposite direction that its sign said, and people (including myself) got left at the stop."

I have yet to receive a response to *any* of my complaints. I don't know if they've been read or not.

Anonymous said...

Under DC's Human Rights Act, what this bus driver did could be considered creating a hostile work environment, even though he said it to the passengers and not another employee (there may have been another employee on the bus, other employees may hear about it, etc.). You cannot make political/social comments on the clock, because if they are offensive to your co-workers, you can be disciplined or fired. You don't get to "express your first amendment rights" on someone else's time, in a situation where others are forced to be in a place with you, and may even be your subordinate.

Anonymous said...

I've filed numerous complaints with WMATA over bus drivers, animals on trains, and unused advertising space. I've never gotten a followup from metro aside from the canned email response.

Anonymous said...

Hey people! All good comments but really now. First Amendment rights are NOT applicable when driving a vehicle. It is no different than not paying attention due to texting or cell calls behind that wheel. Our grand Bill of Rights and Constitution should be protected but I seriously doubt our founding fathers had bus driving safety in mind on this one. Driving is a privilege not a right.

Anonymous said...

Was the bus the X8? I just saw it run three red lights like it was being stolen.

Anonymous said...

I emailed Jim Graham directly. F the complaint form. Know, the time, the bus number (if possible) and the direction.

The responded, but when I called them on their BS response, I never heard back.

Anonymous said...

I hope I'm not an anomaly in that all the times I have submitted complaints, they have all been resolved to my satisfaction, including:

1. Busted rail cars
2. The Branch Ave retaining pond containing more plastic bottles than water
3. A station manager telling me "Too bad" when I said my smarTrip was not responding (They were suspended)
4. A (non-full) bus blowing past a stop with 8 people waiting to board it

Anonymous said...

score another for that shitsucking union.

Michael said...

Freedom of Speech does not come into play. The driver violated sexual harrasment laws by creating a hostile enviroment for passengers.

Reporting this will not be an instant firing, but if WMATA works like it should, this is cause for an instant sit down with a supervisor who goes over sexual harrasment policies. Any further complaints would be grounds for termination. Nobody wants a lawsuit from stuff like this.

Go with what Anonymous said. Time, bus number, route, direction of travel... That should be more than enough info for WMATA to figure out who the drove your bus.

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to imagine the uproar if this bus driver had instead said something like, "I'm so glad DC legalized gay marriage." Oh wait, there wouldn't be one. The intolerance of the supposed "tolerant" homosexual movement is astounding.

Anonymous said...

Sigh....I shake my head at those who try to pass off the "Freedom of Speech" argument. It really goes to show that very few in this country actually understand what that means. There are many restrictions to it and NO, nobody has the freedom to say whatever they want, wherever they want.

As for this driver, REPORT HIM. The guy may not be fired but chances are good it will stay in his record in case he gets caught again

Anonymous said...

@7:52 So if a white driver had something derogatory about mixed-race marriage, you'd be out there defending him, right? Sure.

Anonymous said...

@9:38 Amazing how you can tell what race I am just by reading my anonymous comment. The issue at hand has nothing to do with race.

Anonymous said...

I agree - not necessarily hate speech. Obnoxious? Perhaps. But let's all try to be a bit stronger.

Anonymous said...

The operator's particular views on the issue are not relevant. What is relevant, and what should be against Metro policy, is that he, as a representative of Metro before the public, expressed those views to the public. Metro should want all its customers to feel welcome. They need all the riders and revenue they can get.

I am not a labor lawyer, and have never played one on TV, but I understand that employers are allowed to impose these kind of restrictions when employees are on duty. For example a company can prohibit harrassing, abusive language, political or religious proselytizing, soliciting for other businesses, etc, especially for workers interacting with the public.

If the law on this is different, please correct me.

As Johnny Cash said, "Study harmony and diction, and play your banjo well, and if you have political convictions, keep them to yourself."

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 3/18, 1:16-your complaints were probably resolved because you chose to write them about VALID issues. People get way too hung up on the dumb, ignorant comments made by others and want to lodge formal complaints. Apparently, they think a slap on the wrist will stop hate and general ignorance. If you want to be the bigger/better person, the best approach is to write that person off as an idiot and move on with your life as a decent person. Leave formal complaint processes for the problems that warrant prompt corrective action so the system will function better and important issues will be resolved.

Anonymous said...

Here's the deal. The Guy should be fired for not properly doing his job. If he was driving his own bus or car on his own time, the first amendment applies and government should take no action

But as an employee of wmata, he gets fired. No arrests. Just fired.

Anonymous said...

And is the same true if he voiced support FOR the legislation? What if he had yelled out to no one in particular, "Man! I love it that we have freedom of choice in regards to abortion!" Same deal? Fire him? I'm not sure that I buy the connection to so-called hate speech just because the guy was against gay marriage.

Michael said...

Metro has a policy against employees bringing ANY politics into the workplace. This driver's actions were in direct violation of this policy. He should be reported and, yes, potentially fired. This has nothing to do with freedom of speech or sexual harassment.

Anonymous said...

@10:49 Where did I say that I know what race you are? I don't see that anywhere in my comment. My comment is about free speech, not race. I'm just curious to know how the situation would be different for you if the driver had made a comment about race (or gender, or religion, etc.) instead of sexual orientation. I think the issue for you, and people like you, is that you don't like gay people, and you hide behind spurious support for "free speech." Try being honest for a change, and try working on your reading comprehension while you're at it.

Men aftershave said...

Leave formal complaint processes for the problems that warrant prompt corrective action so the system will function better and important issues will be resolved.

Anonymous said...

The public has a nerve to complain as much as I see people smoking on the platform,body fluids on the train,and eating & drinking all rules that are broken daily . Try riding the subway system in. New York & by the way metro employees pay taxes just like the public , so worry about the safety of the system and not a comment that was made

Anonymous said...

I wonder how would u feel if the public, the media, etc. put all this negative energy into ur place of employment. If you where criticize and belittled by the public daily. Everyone is entitled to there opinion but some people take it to far. All WMATA employees arent bad, its jus that small percentage. People are so quick to focus on the negative but what about the positive things. MISERY LOVES COMPANY........

Anonymous said...

OK
what I'm going to say is going to step on some toes, so if you're sensitive, and unable to accept other perspectives, and views then.... to bad, you're not the only person in the world, get over it.
Toward the guy who overheard a bus operator's comment. Dude, get over it, he was just voicing his opinion, it doesn't mean he has animosity toward you or anybody else, or intends to do you harm.
@ Micheal
so let me get this straight, you want to fire an employee for giving his own personal opinion, on gay mariages....
Are you freakin serious, gay or straight mariages aren't politics, it's life, and how a person views it is their buisness, as long as that opinion doesn't cause "pain" to others so what. The coment about the driver "properly doing his job" was he not turning the steering wheel right, was he not appling the brakes, what was he improperly doing...
You folks are so full of HATE
so quick to fire someone, and cause them discord, pain, the same pain your claiming to be hurt by, take your thumbs out of your mouth, stop whinning and crying, and "GET OVER IT" There is a SERIOUS differance between a "an out load thought" and someone driving unsafely

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