Falsifying timesheets and not admitting it gets poor reception

Worker tried to explain away false timesheets

A federally regulated employer had just cause to dismiss a worker who falsified timesheets and refused to accept responsibility for it, an adjudicator has ruled.

Bruce Sinclair was a maintenance technician with Shaw Cablesystems in Edmonton since 2006. Sinclair had mixed results with his performance, as some reports indicated he was polite with customers and others that he was sometimes rude. In addition, Shaw’s random checks of employee jobs — about one per cent of all work performed by technicians — showed Sinclair often did poor work.

In November 2012, Sinclair’s supervisor met with him to review unacceptable use of work codes, not filling out paperwork properly, and not finishing the job on his calls. In 2013, Shaw had to assign two follow-up visits by other technicians to fix Sinclair’s work. He was also given “below expectations” ratings on other jobs. Shaw inspectors found more problems with poor work, giving customers incorrect information, and failing to call a customer before he arrived.

On May 1, 2013, a supervisor told Sinclair that he was “paving his own road out the door” due to issues with his performance, ability and customer relations. Sinclair was given a written reprimand referring to seven out of 13 job scores that were “below expectations” — the average technician received such a grade on about 10 per cent of job scores. The reprimand letter referred to customer complaints about him and some customers did not want him back into their homes.

In November 2013, there were still concerns about Sinclair’s performance six months after his written reprimand. Sinclair refused to take responsibility and his supervisor told him “your performance is putting your job at risk.”

In 2015, Sinclair was injured and Shaw gave him modified work on the quality control team that involved driving around for a 10-hour shift checking for signal “leakage” from coaxial cables and recording them using a GPS system. During a normal shift, it was expected he would be driving for eight or nine hours. Though the GPS system also recorded times when the driver was driving, it was mainly used to record the co-ordinates of where the leaks were.

Another Shaw employee was found to be not working full days but recording them on his timesheets, so he was fired. Because Sinclair was doing the same job, Shaw decided to investigate him as well.

Shaw generated a report from the GPS data for the period of March 2 to April 26, 2015, which showed Sinclair was not reaching its expectations for drive time. On one occasion, he was recorded as driving for 1.32 hours and several others less than five hours. Gas records also showed he wasn’t driving as much as he was supposed to, but was filling out his timesheets with full days.

Shaw tested the GPS backpack Sinclair was using and it proved to be accurate, so it called a meeting with Sinclair to ask him about the difference in the data and his timesheets. Sinclair didn’t deny the differences in the GPS data and his timesheets and said he didn’t drive beyond what was on the maps of the areas he covered. He insisted he worked 10 hours a day except for one day when he left early for a physiotherapy appointment. On the day in question, a witness saw Sinclair’s car leave one hour earlier than what Sinclair claimed. There were several other days where less than five hours were recorded but Sinclair entered eight hours on the timesheet. In total, Sinclair charged Shaw for 198 hours worked but the GPS data indicated he only drove for 48 hours over that period of time.

Sinclair tried to explain that some of the discrepancy was due to driving two different vans to areas not shown on the uploaded GPS data, and while he was out of town he had another employee submit timesheets for him as he had no access to them. However, he didn’t contact anyone to say his timesheets were inaccurate.

Shaw considered the time differential to be theft and fraud and terminated his employment. Sinclair filed a claim for unjust dismissal, claiming the GPS data wasn’t intended to be used to track employees and it was a violation of his privacy.

The adjudicator found there were multiple instances of misconduct — falsifying timesheets — during March and April 2015. Sinclair never brought this to Shaw’s attention and, while he didn’t deny filling them out incorrectly, he didn’t admit to making mistakes. He demonstrated no remorse, nor did he acknowledge his misconduct, and his only defence was that there was missing GPS data and he continued to insist he was a good employee, despite his previous warnings. He also was aware that the GPS data could track his movements, said the adjudicator.

The adjudicator determined Sinclair “destroyed the trust relationship he had with his employer” beyond repair, giving Shaw just cause for dismissal. See Sinclair and Shaw Cablesystems Ltd. (Unjust Dismissal), Re, 2016 CarswellNat 918 (Can. Lab. Code Adj.).

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