On March 13, 2012, the Superior Court of Quebec rejected the
union's Motion for Judicial Review following an arbitration
decision which confirmed an employer's decision to terminate an
employee for having used the company's telephone system for
The employee, a receptionist working for Société des
établissements de plein air du Québec
(Sépaq)(the Employer) for over 10
years, was dismissed for cause following an investigation which
confirmed that the employee made several local and long distance
telephone calls during his hours of work, using the Employer's
telephone system and, at the Employer's expense.
The union filed a grievance
on the employee's behalf and invoked the principle of
progressive discipline considering the employee's clean
employee file. The union argued that the employee's actions did
not constitute a serious fault and that the dismissal was imposed
because the employee refused to cooperate during the investigation
The Employer argued that given that the employee is in a
position where he is not directly supervised and is given a lot of
autonomy, it is even more important that it be able to maintain a
high level of trust in the employee. The Employer maintained that
it dismissed the employee for cause as a result of the
employee's breach of his duty of loyalty, for using the
Employer's telephone system for personal use, for theft of
company time and for having lied during the investigation
The arbitrator decided that the employee had committed a serious
fault, that his actions resulted in the irreparable rupture of the
relationship of trust between the employee and the Employer and
that the decision of the Employer to immediately dismiss the
employee for having used the Employer's telephone system during
his working hours without authorization or justification was
This decision serves as a reminder to employees that the
improper use of an employer's property and theft of time can
result in the immediate termination of an employee's employment
for cause without regard to the principle of progressive
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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