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Construction Worker Terminated for
Cause Re-instated

The Ontario Labour Relation Board (OLRB) heard a Grievance on November 3, 2014 from Local 493 that alleged that one of its members was terminated without just cause. The employee was a senior civil foreperson who was transferred to the Northeast Region after seven years in the Central Region. Soon after the transfer, the employee began exhibiting erratic behaviour, culminating in an arrest for drunk driving a company vehicle and subsequent termination from his position.

OLRB accepted evidence that the employee suffered from an alcohol addiction related disability. In its analysis, the OLRB gave less weight to earlier incidents of erratic behaviour as they did not result in any formal disciplinary record on the part of the employee.  This notwithstanding, the impaired driving charges had actually been dropped and the employee was convicted of careless driving.

OLBR found that while the company had cause to discharge the employee, a lesser penalty would be appropriate in the circumstances. Subject to specific terms and significant conditions, OLRB ordered that the discharge be substituted for a suspension, and that the employee be reinstated to active employment as a senior supervisor. The worker's continued employment would be conditional on his adherence to the terms and conditions outlined by OLRB's decision.

Employer's need to document violations and take the appropriate action when they occur. Waiting for a crisis to take action may result in the scenario described above. It is advisable for employer's to review their internal disciplinary policy and procedures, and educate key front-line staff to enforce the company's policy.

For further information please contact Greg Sathmary at (613) 260-0600.

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