Treatment of co-workers, not customers at heart of dismissal

Casino worker fired after altercation with co-worker; worker argued he didn't get managerial support in conflicts with guests

The dismissal of an Ontario casino employee with disciplinary incidents related to his treatment of co-workers should be evaluated based on that behaviour rather than his interaction with guests, the Ontario Divisional Court has ruled.

Mike Majewski, 39, was a card dealer at a casino in Niagara Falls, Ont., owned by Complex Services. Hired in 1997, Majewski had a few incidents of discipline, including a verbal warning for absences in 2000, a one-day suspension for losing his temper in the break room in 2001, a one-day suspension for inappropriate comments to guests in 2001, a verbal warning for verbally abusing a co-worker in a company hockey game in 2003, and a one-day suspension in 2004 for an altercation with a guest.

On Aug. 25, 2005, Majewski had a headache and wanted to go home early. It was common practice to send some dealers home early if business was slow. Dealers could enter their names on a list if they wanted to be chosen to go home.

Majewski went to the scheduling office and saw a co-worker with the list in his hand, so he took it from the co-worker. However, the co-worker took it back, told him it was hanging up in the office and mumbled something else. Majewski then insulted the co-worker with profane language and the co-worker reported the incident.

The shift manager called Majewski into the office and told him he was under investigative suspension. Majewski became angry and threw his casino ID and badge onto the table. After the investigation, Complex Services decided to terminate Majewski’s employment.

Majewski filed a wrongful dismissal suit in small claims court. The court found the main issue was Majewski’s interactions with guests, and Majewski’s supervisor didn’t seem to give him proper support in dealing with rude guests when he became upset. It found the previous incidents for which Majewski had received warnings and suspensions as well as the most recent incident did not amount to just cause for dismissal. Complex Services was ordered to pay Majewski eight months’ salary in lieu of notice, capped at $25,000 because of the small claims court limit.

Complex Services appealed to the Divisional Court, which found the issue was Majewski’s abuse of co-workers and insubordination, not his dealings with guests — particularly since the last incident was away from any guests.

The appeal court set aside the trial court’s decision and ordered a new trial to determine just cause for dismissal, using Majewski’s treatment of co-workers and management as the basis for the legal test, rather than his interactions with casino guests. See Majewski v. Complex Services Canada, 2013 CarswellOnt 887 (Ont. S.C.).

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