RIM Sued by Employee Accused of Theft

Halifax e-paper,  The Chronicle Herald reports that Blackberry developer Research in Motion (RIM) is being sued by a former employee who was fired for cause over the theft of overtime hours that he worked from home.
Darren Lapierre claims it was all an administrative error.  He was called into a meeting with team leader Joey Duguay who “informed the plaintiff that between August 2010 and November 2010, the plaintiff was paid for 40 hours of overtime that he did not actually work.”
Lapierre requested proof via email, but was told that “he had the confirmation emails”.  He was later accused of theft by manager Craig Sampson, who asserted that Lapierre signed up for shifts that he didn’t work.  Even though Lapierre offered to pay back the overtime hours, he was terminated for cause three days later, meaning that he wouldn’t receive severance or the bonus owed to him.  Lapierre is now suing for damages to his reputation, intentional infliction of mental suffering and all out-of-pocket expenses.
Daniel Lublin recently wrote in the Metro about a similar case in which an employee suspected of theft was fired because of questionable expense reports.  This case can be seen as analogous insofar that the actions of Leitner and Lapierre would be better described as reckless rather than fraudulent.
Human resources staff should be aware of potential errors in judgement when conducting terminations.  Courts have stringent criteria when evaluating just cause and will likely side with the employee if lesser actions could have been taken.