An Ontario employer has been ordered to pay 24 weeks' wages
to a 12-week probationary employee who was fired after complaining
about numerous safety issues with a company truck he was driving
which hauled steel.
The employee had complained that the truck was
"kicking" and "slipping" in third and seventh
gear; that the steering was loose; that the mirrors were cracked
and off-angle; that there was no engine brake ("Jake
Brake"); that a portion of the dashboard had been removed and
that there were exposed wires; and that fuel was leaking. He
decided that the truck was unsafe to drive, and he told the
The employee said that when he refused to work, the
company's general manager became upset and started swearing,
and told him that he was fired and should leave the keys in the
The employee filed a safety-reprisal complaint under section 50
of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The Ontario
Labour Relations Board decided that the employee had reasonably
believed that the truck was unsafe, and had good reason to
believe that it was unsafe. The employee had taken photographs to
The OLRB also decided that the firing was motivated, at least in
part, by the employee's work refusal, particularly given that
the termination took place almost immediately after the employee
refused to drive the truck.
The OLRB refused to order the employer to reinstate the
employee, because he had been employed there for only 12 weeks and
the trust between the parties was clearly broken. Instead, the OLRB
ordered the employer to pay 20 weeks' back pay (for the period
of time between the date of the termination and the date of the
OLRB's decision) plus an additional 4 weeks' pay. This
means that the 12-week employee received twice his length of
service in damages.
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