This biblical command — "serve thy master not
thyself" — might aptly reflect the law of the workplace,
too. But there are times when an employee says "enough"
and instead decides to serve his own interest over his
employer's. Known as self-dealing, savvy employers have strict
workplace policies prohibiting this.
The traditional notion of self-dealing includes behaviour such
Taking advantage of your employer's business
Using corporate funds as a personal loan;
Purchasing company stock based on insider information, or
A conflict of interest in any of its variegated varieties.
All of the above include financial gain to the employee at the
employer's expense. But what if the employee sees no
financial gain? Would this still constitute self-dealing and
support termination for cause?
The Court has begun to recognize that self-dealing can manifest
itself in ways that may not include financial gain.
What if the gain was to enhance his or her reputation and
standing in the eyes of the employer?
Michel Poirier, a Wal-Mart employee since 1988, was to find
out that this can constitute "self-dealing" and could
support a just cause termination; even if the employee was acting
in what he or she perceived to be the employer's best
Poirier was appointed manager of a new Wal-Mart store in 2003,
in part, because of his stellar record as a manager at its
Guildford store in Surrey, B.C., which conducted about $60-million
a year in sales. After his appointment, Wal-Mart conducted an
investigation into his activities at the Guildford store and
discovered he had engaged in payroll manipulation to keep his store
That included deleting associates' hours at the end of the
week and then paying them out of the cash office and instructing
the back-up personnel manager "to enter associates' worked
hours as sick time to keep your payroll within budget." In
short, he made his store's performance look better to
management but doing so never cost Wal-Mart additional money.
At the conclusion of the investigation, Poirier was fired for
cause and he sued.
In upholding Wal-Mart's decision to terminate employment,
the court accepted that Poirier did not gain financially from his
manipulations. However, it did find that he engaged in this
behaviour to enhance his own reputation and standing in the company
— there was something to gain, although it wasn't
Placing his own interests ahead of his employers, was enough to
substantiate his just cause termination for self-dealing.
Instead of applying a rigid application of just cause based on
the age-old categories, courts are now upholding terminations for
conduct that historically would have been rejected; including when
there is no financial gain. Breach of trust is not taken
This article originally appeared in the Financial
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Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions or GST.
Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, the Canada Pension Plan Act and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions.
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