I read with dismay about a trolley collision in Boston last month that resulted when the operator rear-ended another trolley while he was texting his girlfriend on his cellphone. MBTA (the transit authority) had a no-cellphone-use policy in place at the time of the crash, and the driver was subsequently fired. (Metro has a similar policy that forbids operators from even having an earpiece, phone or microphone even visible if they are in the “driver compartment” at all, even if they aren’t plugged into a phone or turned on.)
In response to the collision, MBTA enacted a no-cellphone-possession policy. That policy went into effect three weeks ago, and puts an absolute ban on cellphone possession by employees, even if the phone is off and zipped away in a bag. Employees caught with a cellphone get a 10-day suspension; employees caught actually using a cellphone “face immediate suspension and a recommendation for dismissal.”
The other day, I read that MBTA has issued its first suspension under the zero-tolerance policy. The employee was caught with a bluetooth device, and admitted that he had a cellphone in his bag. He wasn’t a driver, but rather
served as a train attendant who makes sure everyone is on the train and makes announcements, according to MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo.
What do you think about MBTA’s zero-tolerance policy? Does your opinion change based on the specific job duties of the employee in question, or do you think the same policy should apply across-the-board at all times, no matter whether the person is actually driving a train, bus, or trolley? Would you be okay with it if your employer forbade you from bringing your cellphone on the premises?