By Adrian Miedema
An Alberta safety manager has won $28,000 in damages after he was fired by his employer. The employer argued that the employee quit or, in the alternative, that the employer had just cause for dismissal.
The court rejected the employer’s argument that the employee had quit. The employer’s email stating, “Don’t bother coming in either I’ll look after all this k that your two weeks. Thanks for your services have good day” [sic], made it clear that the employer had dismissed the employee.
The court also rejected the employer’s argument that it had just cause for dismissal. Contrary to the employer’s assertion, the employee had not failed to complete an assigned task (addition of certain safety procedures to the employer’s safety manual) and even if he had failed to do so, there was no evidence that the company had suffered harm as a result.
Further, the employee’s outburst in which he told his manager to “f— off” on a telephone call was not just cause for dismissal. It was said on a private call and there was no “scene” in front of other employees or the public. The employee had an unblemished work record. The manager admitted that he fired the employee in the heat of the moment.
The court therefore decided that the employee, who had 3.5 years of service and an annual salary of $82,000, was entitled to four months of pay in lieu of notice. He was therefore entitled to approximately $28,000 in damages.
For more information, see Bohnet v Rebel Energy Services Ltd.
Adrian Miedema is a partner in the Toronto Employment Group of Dentons Canada LLP. He advises and represents public- and private-sector employers in employment, health and safety and human rights matters. He appears before employment tribunals and all levels of the Ontario courts on behalf of employers. He also advises employers on strategic and risk management considerations in employment policy and contracts. For more information, visit www.dentons.com or www.occupationalhealthandsafetylaw.com.