An arbitrator has upheld the dismissal of a city "traffic
operations" employee for threatening statements, a racist
comment and one incident of dangerous and aggressive driving.
The city relied on four incidents in firing the employee.
In the first incident, after being asked how his weekend was,
the employee said that he had cleaned his gun and polished it up,
and that there were "a few flunkies in the lunchroom that I
would like to take hunting". "Flunky" was a
derogatory term that he routinely used to describe
co-workers. The arbitrator found the employee's statement
to be threatening.
In the second incident, while a passenger in a City
vehicle, he rolled down the window and yelled at group of
protesters words to the effect of: "Go out there and get a
f——- job. Go get a job."
In the third incident, he made a racist statement, about
Italians, "the only good —– is a dead
In the fourth and final incident, he drove a city vehicle
directly at a vehicle that was driving the wrong way on a
The arbitrator concluded:
"The grievor, in my view, is not just 'eccentric',
as Union counsel did his utmost to portray him; he is, at least in
the context of his most recent workplace setting, a simmering ball
of negativity who is routinely disparaging of his co-workers, a
maker of threatening or menacing sounding statements, a person
given to insulting the public that the City serves, and capable of
erratic, even dangerous, behaviour behind the wheel of a very large
City vehicle. In my view, each and every one of these events, which
unfolded over a relatively brief ten-day period, was worthy of
discipline and all of them, in the light of the grievor's
record, support the decision to discharge."
Further, the employee lacked self-awareness and was not
apologetic, and did not appreciate the seriousness of his
This case is another example of how arbitrators are decreasingly
tolerant of threatening or violent conduct in the workplace.
The interesting aspect of this case is that while any one of the
incidents, taken alone, might not have been just cause for
dismissal, taken together they did provide just cause.
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