A professional engineer who engaged in an "over the top,
aggressive" argument with an established member of management,
has lost his safety-retaliation case at the Ontario Labour
Relations Board. Although employees who raise safety issues
are entitled to protection, they must do so respectfully, the OLRB
The employee was hired as the company's Business Operations
Manager. He had a strong health and safety background.
One month after he started working, he joined the joint health and
safety committee. He got into a significant conflict with the
company's "National Manager, Occupational Health and
Safety", which included a heated e-mail exchange. In one
e-mail, he wrote:
"I have been beaten up, insulted and ripped apart over
safety. Never in my 16 year Manufacturing Engineering career
have I encountered such resistance on safety from any manager never
mind from a Safety Manager himself."
In another e-mail, he wrote, "Do not threaten me
again. Ok. One more time and it's considered
The Ontario Labour Relations Board held that "the applicant
was mostly (although not entirely) to blame for the inappropriate
tone of the email exchange. Despite being on the job for
barely a month, he seemed intent on creating a confrontation with
the company's Health and Safety Manager. He was engaged
in an over the top, aggressive argument with an established member
The OLRB held that the applicant had also made false
allegations, yelled and swore at another company manager,
and "exasperated" the company's management.
According to the OLRB, "the normal workplace rules
regarding decorum and respectfulness apply" when employees
raise safety issues, and the employee had "crossed lines in
this case". The OLRB decided that the company had
terminated his employment "because he acted in a disrespectful
and threatening manner to other members of management and for no
Lastly, the employee was still in his probation period when
fired; was not truthful at the OLRB hearing; and had sent
"abhorrent" e-mails – under an alias – to
management shortly after he was fired, in which he invited one
manager to a "street fight" with him and said it was
"payback time". Therefore the OLRB did not
"exercise any discretion" to substitute a lesser penalty
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