In an article titled, “Employers can’t impose major changes” Daniel Lublin discusses the repercussions employees often face when they refuse to perform tasks outside of their job description.
Donald Duguay worked as Cubex driller in mine production. He was asked by his employer to perform bolting work, despite having stated in his interview that he did not want to. He shadowed a bolter for a few hours, before he was asked to step in. When he refused, he was immediately fired for insubordination.
Duguay successfully sued for wrongful dismissal and was awarded severance. The court agreed that bolting was outside of his job description and that such a duty should have been made clear to him at the time he was hired.
The Ontario Health and Safety Act gives all employees in Ontario the right to refuse work they believe is unsafe. Daniel Lublin explains that Duguay’s success “came against the backdrop of a request to perform dangerous work with little training.” This decision should not serve as an indication that employees can refuse undesirable work. Lublin cautions employees that “Mistakenly interpreting a change in their job as being major will rebound poorly on them, not their employer”.