Casino Niagara justified in firing worker

Dealer harassed pit manager with vulgar language, lewd gestures

Casino Niagara was justified in firing a worker who allegedly harassed a pit manager with vulgar language and gestures.

Michael Robertson, 40, worked as a dealer at the casino in Niagara Falls, Ont., from Oct. 7, 1997 until his termination on June 14, 2002. His employer, Complex Services Inc., provides staff and human resources services to the casino. After an incident on June 6, 2002, in which Robertson was accused of harassing the pit manager with vulgar language and gestures, he was fired. Robertson claimed he and the pit manager often joked with each other and things were no different that evening. He claimed the director of games overreacted to the situation and he should not have been fired. Robertson filed a claim for damages from wrongful dismissal with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

The pit manager in question and other employees reported that Robertson’s teasing and joking that evening crossed the line of appropriateness, especially considering they were well within earshot of customers in the casino. In fact, they all testified that it was clear the customers could hear Robertson’s vulgar language and see his gestures. The pit manager testified that he asked Robertson several times to stop but Robertson ignored his requests and continued to taunt him. After hearing of this behaviour, the director of games felt the insubordination and the inappropriate conduct on the floor of the casino were clearly contrary to the casino’s policies and the only course of action was to fire Robertson.

The court found there was no question Robertson’s conduct contradicted the casino’s policies and regulations, of which all employees are required to understand and follow at all times while at the casino. Insubordination is specifically prohibited and proper behaviour on the floor is strictly outlined.

“(Robertson’s) conduct was rude, vulgar, sexually explicit and disrespectful,” the court said. “More importantly, this conduct was carried out on the open floor of the Casino in full view of any other associates and/or patrons and was completely inconsistent with the behaviour expected by an employee of (the Casino)”.

Combined with the fact that Robertson had a history of reprimands for tardiness and poor performance evaluations and that his credibility was compromised from false statements in his testimonial, the court could not find any cause for wrongful dismissal. Robertson’s conduct on June 6 by itself, let alone his the accumulation of incidents prior to that date, was reason enough for his termination.

Robertson’s claim was dismissed.

For more information see:

Robertson v. Complex Services Inc., 2006 CarswellOnt 4364 (Ont. S.C.J.).

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