Determining the legitimacy of an employee’s illness is a tricky situation for employers across Canada. The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench recently took a firm stance on the abuse of sick leave and found in favor of the employer in Telus Communications Inc. v. Telecommunications Workers’ Union. Telus was correct in firing an employee who said he was too sick to go to work but well enough to play in a softball tournament. The court even declined to take the usual step of sending the matter back for a new arbitration hearing. read more…
As we reported four weeks ago (Shocking Arbitration Decision in Ontario), a prominent Canadian arbitrator recently ordered the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) to pay more than $500,000 in damages, finding that it failed to take reasonable steps to ascertain the truth about an employee’s medical condition and fired her for sick leave fraud. The question is whether the door to higher damage awards in Canadian labor relations just got a whole lot wider.
On February 19, 2004, the grievor (a 23-year employee with a clean record) underwent arthroscopic surgery as a result of a workplace knee injury. On February 24, her surgeon wrote a note authorizing her to be off work for four weeks to recuperate.
The latest price tag for terminating an employee based on inadequate investigation and preconceived notions of guilt is $500,000. In a searing decision, an Ontario arbitrator found that the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) failed to take reasonable steps to ascertain the truth about an employee’s medical condition before it fired her for alleged sick leave fraud.
According to the arbitrator, the GTAA’s high-handed and capricious conduct amounted to a breach of trust and the GTAA was held accountable for the devastating effects the termination had on the grievor’s mental and financial wellbeing.