Discharged T Driver Denied Plea to Return to Her Job

An arbitrator ruled that the MBTA was within its right to fire Lataria Milton in 2012.

An arbitrator sided with the MBTA and agreed that the transit agency was within its rights to discharge a bus driver in 2012, after she was accused of hitting a Boston transportation worker in Kenmore Square during an attempt to allegedly avoid getting a parking ticket.

According to documents obtained by Boston, Lataria Milton—and the union that represents her—was trying to get her job back with the MBTA and force her former employer to cover the expenses incurred during her trial stemming from the accident.

An arbitrator ruled this month that not only is Milton not going to return to her daily workload at the transit agency, but she also won’t receive any monetary restitution from the T, however. “That reimbursement of legal fees…is not warranted in the circumstances of this case,” the arbitrator said in a summation of the facts, after a push was made to get Milton back in an MBTA uniform. “Lataria Milton was discharged for sufficient cause.”

On August 9, 2012, Milton was behind the wheel of a T bus, which was parked illegally on the side of the road in Kenmore Square. When Vicki Kilduff, a Boston Transportation Department supervisor, started writing Milton a ticket for parking the bus in a no-stopping zone on Commonwealth Avenue, Milton allegedly hit the gas, causing the vehicle to lurch forward and strike Kilduff. Milton then hit several cars that were stopped at a light at the intersection.  She was later arrested and charged with reckless operation of a motor vehicle and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Shortly after, the T let her go, stating that she would “not drive a bus” for the agency again

Kilduff was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, and the case went to court that year.

Following the jury trial, where Milton was found not guilty of using her T bus as a weapon to harm Kilduff, the Carmen’s Union disputed the driver’s dismissal, and attempted to get Milton her job back. They also argued that since Milton was found not guilty that the T should be held responsible for the hefty legal fees that were a result of the trial.

The union argued in arbitration that Milton was fired from her job for a crime, even though a jury found her not guilty, and her discharge for a crime she did not commit should not be upheld.

But the arbitrator in the case, who is not named in the paperwork Boston obtained, said there are other reasons—besides the alleged crime—that justified her firing. “[The T] discharged her for a variety of rules violations,” including the “falsification” of her story, which varied greatly, the arbitrator said, between the accounts detailed to the police, and those submitted for record by Milton during the appeals process to get reinstated.

When asked about the decision, Joe Pesaturo, a spokesman for the MBTA, said with public safety “of paramount importance,” it’s the T’s duty to ensure that all of its employees adhere to the rules of conduct at all times.