Angry worker quit after not getting his way; no reprisal by employer for ending employment

Company refused worker’s demand to work overtime for more money and to do less work, so worker walked away

An Ontario worker who demanded to be paid overtime rather than work flex hours to get certain things done quit his job of his own accord and wasn’t terminated as a reprisal for demanding rights under employment standards legislation, the Ontario Labour Relations Board has ruled.

Carl Krulikoski worked as a mechanic for Let’s Landscape Together, a residential and commercial landscaping company in Burlington, Ont. At times he was known by co-workers to be short-tempered and not easy to talk to in the mornings, but no serious issues came of it and he was considered a good mechanic by company management.

On July 6, 2017, Krulikoski came into the company’s office and spoke with the estimator, who sometimes worked with him on issues regarding safety and operation of the company’s trucks. According to the estimator, Krulikoski told her he was frustrated with the company and the work he was doing and he was going to start looking for other work that very day.

Later that same day, a vehicle that was needed for the following day broke down. Krulikoski was asked to work late to repair it, but he refused unless he was paid overtime pay. The production supervisor spoke to the senior production supervisor about it and they decided to discuss the matter with Krulikoski, hoping they could work with him on his ability to interact with colleagues.

They met the following Monday morning, July 10, and the senior production supervisor discussed the importance of getting vehicles ready to go for the following day. Krulikoski was angry and said he wasn’t going to work overtime hours without getting paid for them, to which he was told he could come in early and leave early, but the vehicles needed to be ready for the day either way and the company didn’t want him to work overtime hours. Krulikoski stood up and said, “I guess I’m going to find another job” and left.

The two production managers tracked Krulikoski down in the mechanic shop and told him they still wanted him to be part of the team, but Krulikoski — who was still agitated — reiterated that he wouldn’t work overtime hours without overtime pay. The senior production manager said he would get lieu time if he had to work extra hours, but Krulikoski insisted on more money for overtime. When the senior production manager said no, Krulikoski responded by saying he wanted to do less work and began listing things he didn’t want to do anymore. He started to pack up his tools and walked out, saying once again that he was going to find another job.

The senior production supervisor went to tell the owner that Krulikoski had just quit, and when he returned to the mechanic shop, Krulikoski was there packing up the rest of his tools. According to the supervisor, Krulikoski shook his hand and told him it was “nice working with you.” The senior production supervisor then requested his keys to the company truck, his company credit card, and cellphone.

The company provided Krulikoski with a letter dated July 12 summarizing the events of Krulikoski’s last day as well as a discussion the production supervisors had had with him along with the company vice-president in which Krulikoski had demanded a raise. Afterwards they had asked Krulikoski to think about whether he wanted to be a part of the team but Krulikoski didn’t change his position, and they all agreed he was no longer a good fit to remain.

The letter acknowledged that Krulikoski had told four people in the company that he was looking for another job and he wanted more money for less work, and that he was “no longer an asset to the company.” The company provided Krulikoski with four weeks’ termination pay on the advice of the Ontario employment standards website and helpline, which the vice-president consulted because she was inexperienced in such matters.

Krulikoski filed a complaint claiming Let’s Landscape Together terminated his employment in reprisal for his demand for overtime pay to which he was entitled under employment standards legislation. The company denied the charge, arguing Krulikoski quit his job and ended the employment relationship himself.

An employment standards officer reviewed Krulikoski’s complaint and agreed that the company terminated Krulikoski’s employment and it was a reprisal for his demand to be paid overtime pay. Let’s Landscape together appealed this decision to the board.

The board found that Krulikoski demonstrated dissatisfaction with his terms of employment when he demanded more money and told the company what he would and wouldn’t do. He also refused the company’s suggestion to working more flexible hours — coming in early and leaving early — rather than working overtime, saying he would rather have overtime pay.

Krulikoski’s objective intention was further supported by the fact he told a co-worker days before that he was going to look for another job and then said the same thing in the July 10 meeting. When the company refused to give him his way, he first walked out of the meeting and started packing up, then walked away from the mechanic shop. In addition, Krulikoski had a chance to change his mind, but he came back later, packed up his tools and told the senior production manager it was nice working with him, said the board.

As for the discussion involving the vice-president, the board noted that the letter stated they “all” agreed Krulikoski was no longer a fit. That encompassed Krulikoski as well, and Krulikoski didn’t disagree or make any indication he wanted to stay, said the board.

The board also noted that the four weeks’ pay the company provided Krulikoski wasn’t based on any intention to terminate Krulikoski’s employment, but rather it was provided on the advice of the employment standards website and helpline.

The board determined that Krulikoski voluntarily left his employment with Let’s Landscape Together because the company wasn’t prepared to meet his demands to have him work overtime. It overturned the employment standards officer’s decision and dismissed the complaint.

“In summation, the absence of agreement to change the terms and conditions of (Krulikoski’s) employment to his satisfaction led to a ‘mutual parting of the ways’ as stated by (the company),” the board said. “In the real world of employment relationships, this is not an uncommon scenario under which an employee elects to leave his or her employment if demands for better pay and working conditions are not met.”

For more information see:

• 1165298 Ontario Inc. v. Krulikoski, 2018 CarswellOnt 10698 (Ont. Lab. Rel. Bd.).

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