Does an on-shift-employee have a duty to intervene to stop a
fight between members of the public – or between other
employees? A recent court decision provides some guidance on that
Madam Justice Beth Allen of the Superior Court of Justice
(Ontario) decided that a bus driver was not required to intervene
to stop a fight between two bus passengers. She dismissed a
negligence suit against the driver.
The two passengers got into an "altercation" on a bus.
The incident started when one passenger bumped the other while
moving toward the back of the bus. Angry words ensued which led to
them grabbing each other and the plaintiff falling to the floor and
being injured. The injured passenger sued both the Toronto Transit
Commission and the driver. The TTC and the driver moved to have the
lawsuit thrown out, arguing that there was no genuine issue of fact
requiring a trial.
The court stated that the "Security for Bus Operators"
manual prohibits a driver from intervening physically in a fight
because of the risk of physical injury and the risk of being
charged with assault. It was also up to the driver's judgment
as to whether to verbally tell the fighters to stop. Here, the bus
driver acted reasonably by stopping the bus and putting it out of
In short, the plaintiff had not proven that the TTC or driver
were negligent The lawsuit was dismissed.
According to this decision, the employee was not required to
intervene to stop a fight since doing so could have put himself in
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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.
A former teacher at Bodwell High School has learned a valuable lesson from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal— it is not discriminatory for an employer to offer child-related benefits to only employees with children.
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.
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