A supervisor's e-mails to an employee were not harassing, an
arbitrator has held, noting the employee's friendly tone
– "great game Thurs night" – and use of the
"smiley face" in his replies to the supervisor's
The employee, who was unionized, filed a grievance alleging that
the employer, by permitting the supervisor's
allegedly-harassing e-mails, violated an article of the collective
agreement that required the employer to "make reasonable
provisions for the safety and health" of employees.
The e-mail exchange was about problems with the
employee's time cards. The employee claimed that the
supervisor's questions about his time cards were akin to
"calling me a thief and a liar".
The arbitrator cited the following definition of harassment,
from another arbitration case:
"Harassment includes words, gestures and actions which tend
to annoy, torment, pester, persecute, bother and embarrass another
person, as well as subjecting someone to vexatious attacks,
questions, demands or other unpleasantness. A single act,
which has a harmful effect, may also constitute
The arbitrator decided that the supervisor was simply fulfilling
his legitimate responsibilities in his supervisory position,
attempting to resolve discrepancies in the employee's recorded
hours of work.
The employee's friendly tone in his reply to the
supervisor's e-mails, was also noted by the arbitrator.
In one e-mail, the employee wrote, "p.s. great game
Thurs night", and he used his nickname "Chiser" and
a "smiley face". In another e-mail, the employee
addressed the supervisor, "Hey Eddie, . . . we can chat next
week" and also added a "smiley face". The tone
of the e-mail exchange did not show any animosity towards the
This decision demonstrates the wisdom of supervisors using a
temperate tone, wherever possible, in their e-mails to employees.
It also shows that a supervisor's legitimate exercise of his or
her duties will not, in general, be considered harassment.
Dentons is a global firm driven to provide you with the
competitive edge in an increasingly complex and interconnected
marketplace. We were formed by the March 2013 combination of
international law firm Salans LLP, Canadian law firm Fraser Milner
Casgrain LLP (FMC) and international law firm SNR Denton.
Dentons is built on the solid foundations of three highly
regarded law firms. Each built its outstanding reputation and
valued clientele by responding to the local, regional and national
needs of a broad spectrum of clients of all sizes –
individuals; entrepreneurs; small businesses and start-ups; local,
regional and national governments and government agencies; and
mid-sized and larger private and public corporations, including
international and global entities.
Now clients benefit from more than 2,500 lawyers and
professionals in 79 locations in 52 countries across Africa, Asia
Pacific, Canada, Central Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Russia and
the CIS, the UK and the US who are committed to challenging the
status quo to offer creative, actionable business and legal
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances. Specific Questions relating to
this article should be addressed directly to the author.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Labour and employment law had some interesting developments in 2016. What follows are a few highlights from the last year and an introduction to an issue that may attract significant attention in 2017.
Businesses and employers face exposure to a variety of claims for mismanagement or misuse of personal information by employees. Damages may depend on how sensitive the information is and how it is misused.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).