In a bizarre case, a backhoe operator has been convicted of
assault under the Criminal Code after he tried, in a fit of rage,
to throw a co-worker off the backhoe by rotating the machine four
full rotations while the worker held on to a railing as his feet
were flying free of the machine.
The altercation happened after the worker tried to confront the
backhoe operator for coming into contact with his father's
truck. It hadn't helped that the worker had also
complained about the operator's operation of the backhoe on the
The worker testified that he approached the backhoe while it was
loading a truck, and tried unsuccessfully to get the operator's
attention. He then opened the backhoe door and yelled at the
operator, after which an altercation ensued. The worker said
he fell onto the tracks of the machine, and got up and held the
railing. The operator then rotated the machine four full
rotations, with the worker holding on the the railing with his feet
flying free. The worker eventually fell off and landed on the
ground. He was unhurt.
The worker said that he lost his hat, which the operator started
"stabbing" with the bucket of the machine. A
co-worker wisely persuaded him not to fetch his hat.
The court found the backhoe operator guilty of criminal
assault. The operator's version of what happened was not
credible, but the worker was generally credible, although both of
them had been "immature".
This case demonstrates that workplaces are not immune from the
application of the criminal law. Where an employee's workplace
conduct violates the Criminal Code, the police may proceed with
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Ten days following the election, join us for a discussion with Gary Doer, former Canadian Ambassador to the US, and Gordon Giffin, US Ambassador to Canada under Bill Clinton, to discuss how the new President and Congressional makeup will shape US-Canada relations for years to come.
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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.
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