One would think it self-evident that employees who punch a
customer's employee in the face may be dismissed for just
cause. But it took an appeal for an employer to win on that
The employee was a truck driver with a small, privately-owned
trucking company. While at a customer's premises, he got
agitated at one of the customer's employees and punched him in
the mouth, knocking out one of his teeth. The employer dismissed
the truck driver and refused to pay his Canada Labour Code
termination and severance pay. The employee then filed a claim for
Surprisingly, an Inspector under the Canada Labour
Code, who was the first-level adjudicator, decided that the
employer did not have just cause for dismissal because the
company's "expectations" had not been clear, there
had been insufficient supervision to ensure compliance, and there
had been no "clear warnings" as to what would happen if
the employee engaged in unacceptable conduct.
The employer appealed to a referee, who disagreed with the
Inspector. The one incident, taken on its own, was just cause for
dismissal. The truck driver showed no remorse for his actions, even
at the hearing where he said that the customer's employee
deserved what he got. The appeal referee found that the truck
driver had been evasive and dishonest at the appeal hearing. The
referee held that the punch was unprovoked and constituted just
cause for dismissal; this meant that the employee was not entitled
to termination pay and severance pay under the Canada Labour
Although the employee had a spotty performance record, including
a warning for a previous violent incident at a customer's
premises in which he was alleged to have threatened one of his
co-workers with a hunting knife, the appeal referee decided that he
did not need to rely on the past incidents, given the gravity of
the later assault on the customer.
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.
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.
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).