The law around what isn’t and isn’t acceptable when it comes to terminations for cause continues to evolve. It seems now more than ever that one of the key factors in determining whether an employer had just cause to terminate an employee is whether the employee directly disobeyed a company policy, to which their explicit agreement had been documented. If an employee goes against the company’s orders after being clearly notified of what they were, that is a relatively clear case of just cause, in many cases.
Why Was the Employee Terminated in the Metro Ontario Inc. v. United Food & Commercial Workers Canada Local 175 Case?
Metro Ontario Inc. v. United Food & Commercial Workers Canada Local 175, a decision from a recent arbitration, established that it was just cause for termination of an employee who kept a $100 bill she found on the floor of her store instead of turning it in to lost and found or loss prevention. The employee was at the checkout buying some items when she noticed the bill in another lane and went to pick it up. The employee claimed that she had informed the cashier in her lane of this, but that cashier denied that she’d been told. Once she had paid for her groceries, she went to her car and stashed the bill in the glove compartment. When she returned to the workplace for her next scheduled shift, she did not take the bill with her. That day, she was called into an investigation meeting where loss prevention asked her what she knew about this missing $100 bill. At this point, the employee acknowledged that she had taken the bill but that she had intended to return it.
The arbitrator found the employee’s behaviour inconsistent with her claims that she wanted to return the bill. She did not notify anyone upon picking up the bill, and neglected to return it the next time she went to work. Further, the employee had agreed to the company’s policies, which included protocols for when customer property was found in the store – and she had even adhered to these protocols in the past. The arbitrator therefore found that there had been a breach of trust, particularly because the employee showed no remorse. Accordingly, the union’s grievance was dismissed.
How Can Whitten & Lublin Employment Lawyers Assist in Such Cases?
This case is a cautionary tale for all employees. Blatant breaches of company policy, particularly when the conduct could have brought the employer into serious disrepute, can constitute just cause for termination and a permanent stain on any employee’s record. That being said, if you are terminated with just cause, it’s essential to reach out to employment lawyers promptly to understand if your employer has proper grounds for the just cause termination. We at Whitten & Lublin are highly skilled and can provide insight and advice into your specific circumstances. If you are looking for employment lawyers and would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667.
Author – Carson Healey