Long-time employee’s record of bad behaviour warranted firing

Employer recommended anger management after series of incidents but employee continued to cause problems at work

An Alberta company had just cause to fire a long-time employee with a history of bad behaviour, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench has ruled.

Brian Dawson, 52, worked for Bridge Brand Food Services Ltd. for 30 years and was a grocery receiver in the company’s warehouse. Between 1996 and 2004, he received five formal reprimands and several warnings about his attitude and conduct which often involved vulgar language and loss of temper. The company discussed each incident with Dawson and recommended courses of action such as anger management. Dawson signed each report to indicate he understood the situation.

On Feb. 28, 2003, Dawson threatened a delivery driver and the delivery company informed Bridge Brand it was considering ending its business with them. Bridge Brand suspended Dawson for three days and warned him if this behaviour continued, he would be fired. The company made it clear it would not tolerate any more problems. “This is the last chance Brian will get — if it does happen again Brian will be terminated,” the report said.

A year later Dawson was involved in another incident where he was shouting and cursing at other employees. He was reprimanded on March 1 and terminated on March 15, 2004. Dawson claimed he was fired because the company thought he couldn’t control himself and it didn’t give him the chance to give his side of the story.

The court made note of Dawson’s history of misconduct going back eight years. In addition to the formal reprimands, there were informal warnings and his behaviour was well-known at the warehouse. Dawson had done little to change his ways despite the company’s recommendations and rarely acknowledged he did anything wrong. The court noted just cause can result from a “repudiation of the essential condition of the employment contract” including a regular pattern of misconduct. Dawson’s attitude and behaviour at work threatened to harm the business and caused employees to worry about their safety. Langston found the cumulative effect of all this qualified as a repudiation of the employment contract.

“By the time of the final incident it is clear that (Dawson) was a liability to (Bridge Brand) and could no longer fulfill his part of the employment contract,” the court said. See Dawson v. Bridge Brand Food Services Ltd., 2007 CarswellAlta 48 (Alta. Q.B.).

To read the full story, login below.

Not a subscriber?

Start your subscription today!