Motor Home Fire Leads to Firing

Employers often get outlandish explanations from employees who call in sick.  Typically, one call won’t result in dismissal.  In this case it did, even though the reason provided was a pretty good one.
An article written in the Metro by Daniel Lublin highlights how easy it is for poor communication to lead to dismissal.
Jansje Beggs contacted her employer Westport Foods following the loss of her mobile home and explained that she didn’t know when she would be in.  After a month without contact, Westport drafted a record of employment indicating that she had resigned.  A month later, Beggs arrived with a doctor’s note in hand explaining her absence.  She was surprised to hear about her resignation and even more suprised that her note failed to make a difference in Westport’s decision.
The BC Court of Appeal recognized that there had been a misunderstanding between Westport and Beggs but concluded that Westport had effectively fired her when they failed to consider the newly produced medical documentation.
Although Beggs won her case, Lublin draws emphasis to the fact that she “found herself in a twilight zone somewhere between having abandoned her job and having been fired.”  He explains how important it is for employees to “Resist taking any steps that can be construed as voluntarily withdrawing from the workplace”.  Beggs was right to protest her resignation and seek council, but a doctor’s note will not always suffice.  Rather than chance it, employees should do their best to communicate clearly, even during distressing situations.