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Queen's University
 

Tennaco Canada v. United Steelworkers, Local 2894 (Whitelaw Grievance) [2011], OLAA, No, 434.

What mitigating factors will prevent an employee who has committed an act of workplace violence from being terminated?

Facts

The grievor was a long term employee of Tennaco Canada who was a recovering alcoholic, whose wife has recently died and who had a history of angry outbursts in the workplace.  After being caught smoking in the workplace, he became angry and kicked in a door. He immediately apologized to his supervisors, took responsibility for his actions, paid for the damage, and expressed remorse. His letter of termination mentioned that he was fired in accordance with Bill 168. Following his termination, he began counselling with an anger management professional and continued to attend AA meetings.  At his grievance hearing, he once again expressed remorse, took responsibility for his actions, and expressed gratitude for his termination which for him was a “blessing in disguise” because it taught him to appreciate the consequences of his inability to control his anger.

Issue:

Was termination too harsh a penalty, given these mitigating factors?

Decision

Yes

Reasoning

Unlike the arbitrator in the City of Kingston Case, this arbitrator determined that termination was too harsh a penalty, given the grievor’s personal circumstances (recent widower, recovering alcoholic, anger management issues), his acceptance of responsibility, his remorse and the steps he took to fix his behaviours (alcoholism and anger issues).

Order

Because of all these mitigating factors, the arbitrator ordered the employer to allow the grievor to return to work. However, to underscore the seriousness of his misconduct, he was not awarded compensation for the time he had missed since his termination. He also set upon him a long list of conditions, including the appointment of intermediaries (for both the union and management) to facilitate his return to work.

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000