Bug in supervisor’s drink was unprovoked assault: arbitrator

Worker was seen with large insect before it ended up in bottle of soda pop

Termination was acceptable discipline for an employee who harassed co-workers and put an insect in his supervisor’s drink, an arbitrator has ruled.

Ivan Paroski, 34, was a welder for Kitchener, Ont.-based Lear Canada from April 2000 until October 2005. During his night shift on Oct. 6, 2005, Paroski found a large insect in a container. He picked it up and showed a female co-worker, who told him to take it away. He showed it to her a second time before taking it away. Another female co-worker reported he brought it over to her and held it near her face. As he walked away, she testified he said he was going to put it in the supervisor’s drink.

The supervisor on the shift found Paroski out of his assigned work area and told him to get back to his job. Later, she noticed something in her bottle of soda in her office. She held it up to the light and saw it was a large bug. Other employees told her they had seen Paroski with the bug earlier. The supervisor completed a written statement on the incident and indicated she wanted Paroski removed from the plant “for the safety of my employees and for my own safety.”

Another supervisor told Paroski to leave the plant but he refused and went back to his work area. Security and police were called and he was escorted from the plant. Pansoki denied he put the bug in his supervisor’s drink and also said he had refused to leave because “if I go now I’ll be blamed for something I didn’t do.”

The arbitrator found Paroski to be an unreliable witness as his testimony conflicted with that of everyone else’s and he was familiar with the company’s grievance procedure and being “walked out” of the plant when there was a complaint. The arbitrator found his behaviour was insubordinate and the fact he did have a bug in his possession made it likely he put it in the drink.

“On a balance of probabilities standard, Paroski was the person who put the bug in the bottle,” the arbitrator said. “(He) had opportunity; motive; he announced his intention to do it; and he did it.”

The arbitrator found Paroski’s misconduct was “an unprovoked assault upon his supervisor” which could potentially have caused harm to her. The assault along with his subsequent lying about it and insubordination was just cause for termination. See Lear Corp. v. CAW-Canada, Local 1524, 2006 CarswellOnt 8943 (Ont. Arb. Bd.).

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