A worker who contacted a Ministry of Labour inspector with
safety concerns but didn't get the answer he wanted, and then
spread rumours that the MOL inspector had been "paid off"
by the company, was dismissed for cause, an Ontario judge has
The company, at the wrongful dismissal trial, denied that it
dismissed the employee for complaining about safety issues. The
company instead called evidence about a series of concerns with the
employee's performance, including allowing an unauthorized
person to enter a restricted area; permitting three employees to
leave work for one hour without punching their time card; approving
a full skid of product that had labels missing; winking at a female
employee and touching her hand; falling asleep during his shift;
failing to wear a required face mask; attempting to engage
co-workers against the company; and spreading rumours about the MOL
With respect to those rumours, three co-workers had signed a
statement saying that the employee was spreading rumours that the
MOL inspector was a "rat" and had been paid by the
company to dismiss his complaints.
Shortly after receiving that signed statement, the company
terminated the employee's employment for creating a
"poisoned work environment" and spreading false rumours
about the MOL inspector. The company claimed just cause for
At trial, the employer said that the MOL inspector had attended
and had found no violations of the Occupational Health and
Safety Act or that they were minor.
With respect to whether the company had just cause to dismiss
the employee, the judge decided that the "cumulative incidents
were not minor or trifling. They affected the workplace as a
whole". The employee had been insubordinate and had attempted
to harm the employer, including spreading rumours that the company
was closing. The employee had not been fired in retaliation for
raising safety issues. The company had just cause to dismiss the
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On Thursday, September 22, 2016, Dentons hosted a panel discussion about the management of liabilities and risks associated with environmental crises, including potential liabilities for directors and officers and provided insight into risk and liability techniques associated with environmental crisis management.
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.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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