‘You’re out’ – Slo-pitch termination ruled safe

|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 08/13/2013

Legal Briefs

An Alberta court has overruled the reinstatement of a Telus employee who was fired for calling in sick and then playing in a baseball tournament.

Jarrod Underwood was hired in 2006 to install phone and Internet service in customers’ homes in Fort McMurray, Alta. In June 2011, he asked for July 3 off so he could play in a tournament, but was denied. However, on July 3, Underwood texted his manager to say he could not come to work due to “unforeseen circumstances.” But the manager went to the ballpark and saw him pitching.

When confronted, Underwood apologized and promised not to do it again. He said he’d felt sick the morning of his shift but when he felt better, he went to watch the game.

One week later, Underwood received a termination letter that called his conduct “egregious” and said he had “completely and irreparably destroyed” Telus’ trust in him as an employee. It said Underwood had damaged the company’s customer service by forcing it to cancel seven scheduled jobs on July 3.

It “defies logic and common sense” that a worker could be too sick to work but still pitch in a baseball game, said the court. The arbitrator’s decision was overturned and Underwood’s termination was upheld.

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