Suncor worker calls in sick during wildfires, wrongfully dismissed for dishonesty

Company claimed worker changed story on illness, but he properly followed procedure
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 04/26/2018

A Suncor oilsands worker who called in sick amongst the confusion of the Fort McMurray, Alta., wildfires in 2016 did not act dishonestly or abuse the company’s sick leave program, an arbitrator has ruled.

Kevin Zwozda was a field operator and production technician. Hired in 2008, he lived about 700 kilometres away from work and flew to and from the Firebag camp, where he stayed for several days at a time to work. Zwozda had no disciplinary record.

Suncor had an integrated disability management (IDM) program for employees who were too sick to come to work — if they were off work for medical reasons, they had to be examined by a physician while experiencing symptoms, and they had to notify their supervisor if they had a health problem that could affect their fitness for work.