Letting 11-year-old into casino just cause for dismissal of guard

Guard was distracted and didn't see child accompanied by parents
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 07/12/2010

An Ontario casino had just cause to dismiss a security guard who allowed an 11-year-old into the casino gaming area, the Ontario Arbitration Board has ruled.

Michael Kenny, 44, was a security guard at Casino Niagara in Niagara Falls, Ont., for 12 years starting in 1996. In the afternoon of May 19, 2008, Kenny was working one of the entrances to the gaming floor of the casino when he allowed three people through. Two were adults but a third, who was wearing a heavy coat and hat, turned out to be an 11-year-old boy. Another casino employee spotted the boy and detained him and his mother.

Kenny was told to prepare a report, in which he said he had no recollection of letting the child enter the casino. He was subsequently sent home for four days while the casino investigated.

On May 23, 2008, management showed Kenny the surveillance video of the boy walking into the casino. Kenny was also depicted as not standing with a professional posture and with his hands in his pockets, contrary to casino policy for security staff. Kenny explained he had been distracted by the mother’s umbrella and didn’t see the boy. He also said it was a busy holiday weekend and there were normally two guards at the entrance but he was working alone that day because of staff cuts.

After viewing the video, Kenny was taken to the security manager’s office where he was given a termination letter explaining that his allowing the boy to enter the casino, coupled with his unprofessional behaviour, was a “total disregard for established security protocols,” which violated the casino’s security plan, which all employees were given, and the regulations of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission. The casino also noted he had several other written and oral reprimands in the past, particularly a three-day suspension for aggressive behaviour towards other employees.

The arbitrator found previous discipline and his contravention of security policy were not necessary to consider because his misconduct in allowing the boy into the casino was serious enough to warrant dismissal. It found his excuse of being distracted by the umbrella was “difficult to accept” and underlined his poor performance of his duties. Kenny was aware of the need to ask for valid identification and the importance to keep underage people out of the casino because of legal liability, said the board, and his failure to do so violated several policies and regulations.

The board found Kenny “made no attempt to perform his job” when the boy entered the casino and, despite his remorse and excuses, his misconduct was a fundamental breach of his duties and responsibility as a security guard.

“It is readily apparent that few issues are of greater importance to the employer than prohibition of minors gaining access to the casino,” said the arbitrator. “This is a clear case of non-performance of the duties of a position which, in my view, justifies summary dismissal.” See Complex Services Inc. vs. O.P.S.E.U., Local 278, 2010 CarswellOnt 2391 (Ont. Arb. Bd.).

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