The disappearing transit worker (Legal view)

Worker regularly left to have a few beers, hang out with friends
By Lorna Harris
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 07/10/2007

Nelson Wall was scheduled to work from 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. as a car house cleaner at the Toronto Transit Commission’s (TTC) Greenwood maintenance yard. But that didn’t mean he felt compelled to stay at work for his whole shift. In fact, he habitually left work to meet his buddies and hoist a few beers at local watering holes. Although he made no secret of his activities, he had been disciplined only once. When an anonymous source added allegations of theft to the ongoing accounts of Wall’s misdemeanours, it was time for the TTC Special Constables Criminal Investigations Unit to get involved.

During the investigation into the theft, surveillance teams followed Wall when he left work mid-shift. He went home, changed clothes and headed to a country and western bar where he played pool and drank a couple of beers before returning to work. A few days later he was seen at another bar during working hours enjoying a basket of chicken wings, fries and two bottles of beer. This time he was accompanied by a woman he had picked up earlier at a private residence. They left just before 1 a.m. and, a few minutes later after dropping her off, he was back at the TTC yard. This time he was detained by the special constables, who called his supervisor John Dotzko to meet him at the gate.

Wall explained to Dotzko that he had taken off because of a sudden family emergency. Dotzko accepted his excuse at face value and allowed him to go home. His superintendent, Jim Fraser, was not so sanguine. Although he did not want to compromise the criminal investigation, he could no longer ignore the reports of Wall’s drinking on the job. He called a disciplinary meeting and fired him on the basis of his prior discipline, his previous unauthorized absences and the two incidents of consuming alcohol while on duty –– a terminable offence under the collective agreement.