Paper mill worker’s firing cuts too deep (Legal view)

‘Disorderly conduct’ too broad for automatic termination under collective agreement
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/24/2011

A shouting match and physical altercation at work were considered serious misconduct but didn’t qualify for dismissal under a collective agreement provision for disorderly conduct, the Ontario Arbitration Board has ruled.

Ted Lafleur, 50, worked for 16 years at a paper mill in Thorold, Ont., which manufactured board liners for drywall. Lafleur’s job involved cutting samples out of reels of paper to test their consistency, with the help of another employee.

For many years, the mill was dominated by male workers with many years of service. As a result, they were used to handling disputes among themselves — including settling arguments in the parking lot. A collective agreement outlined penalties for workplace misconduct, such as suspensions, but management rarely got involved.