It’s not hard to say ‘I’m sorry’ when it saves your job

When tempers flare at work, sometimes all that’s needed to set things straight is a good apology

That’s what happened with Toplica Panic, a machinist at Oak Leaf Confections Ltd. in Toronto, who got into an argument with a supervisor.

Panic was hired in 1987 and fired on May 5, 2006, following an incident on the evening shift of April 27 involving Tomy Chunbamala, a company supervisor. Panic acted “abusively, insubordinately, threateningly and inappropriately” towards Chunbamala.

Panic’s union, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, Local 264, grieved the termination. Following two days of hearings at the Ontario Arbitration Board, both sides pursued settlement discussions, which proved successful.

The settlement took into account the seriousness of Panic’s misconduct, his long service, his good work ethic, his frustration on April 27, his age and personal circumstances. The settlement, which would see Panic return to work, was based on an “unequivocal willingness by (him) to admit he acted wrongly, to express his significant remorse, and to apologize personally and unreservedly to Mr. Chunbamala for what had occurred.”

In light of that, the arbitrator said it was appropriate and fair to reinstate Panic in his employment as a machinist, subject to the following terms:

Apology: Prior to returning to work, Panic was required to sign a written apology. The apology read, “I, Toplica Panic, hereby fully and unequivocally apologize to Tony Chunbamala, to the other employees of the employer and to the employer for my conduct on April 27, 2006, and for any embarrassment or emotional discomfort that my conduct may have caused. I recognize that my conduct was inappropriate and I will ensure it is not repeated.”

Civility agreement: Prior to returning to the work, Panic was required to sign a civility agreement where he agreed:

•to abide fully with all reasonable plant rules established from time to time by the employer in accordance with the provisions of the collective agreement; and

•to, at all times, treat other employees with respect and dignity and to recognize and accept the multicultural nature of the workplace and at all times to conduct myself in a manner consistent with that.

Panic was fired on April 27 and returned to work on Oct. 2. The period from the date Panic was suspended until he was reinstated was to be treated as disciplinary suspension without pay. As part of the deal, he would be reinstated with no loss of seniority.

For more information see:

Oak Leaf Confections Ltd. v. B.C.T., Local 264, 2006 CarswellOnt 5950 (Ont. Arb. Bd.).

Latest stories