Workers fired for e-mailing porn to be reinstated

Arbitrator orders Ontario government to give six Ministry of Natural Resources staff their jobs back

Six workers fired from their jobs at Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources for circulating graphic pornography images and videos to co-workers and workers outside the government have been awarded their jobs back by an arbitrator.

The decision to force the Ontario government to hire the six men back was made June 18, according to a report in the July 12 issue of the Globe and Mail. Arbitrator Ken Petryshen has yet to release the full judgment so the reasoning behind his decision isn’t clear at this point.

The six were fired following an intensive investigation of staff at the Ministry of Natural of Resources. More than 90 employees were investigated, 66 were reprimanded with penalties ranging from letters to 20-day suspensions, and six were ultimately fired.

Commenting in a Jan. 23, 2003, decision in the same case Petryshen detailed the graphic nature of the e-mails sent around the ministry and, in one case, to a few employees at DaimlerChrysler from government computers.

“After reviewing the material in the grievors Outlook accounts at the hearing and again after the hearing, it is my conclusion that the employer correctly assessed some of the inappropriate material as very offensive,” said Petryshen. “Although the inappropriate material in the grievors’ accounts includes some relatively innocuous items, they also include items of bestiality, oral sex, pictures of nude obese and elderly women and pictures of sexual activity that are degrading and violent to women.”

He said the material in the e-mail accounts of the six who were fired were “generally more offensive and the volume of activity is generally greater.”

At that time he said the firing of the six men “might be an appropriate response” by the government.

“In circumstances where the grievors engaged in serious misconduct due to the receipt or distribution of very offensive material by e-mail, where employees had been warned that discharge could result from such conduct and where the employer applied discipline consistently, it is difficult to conclude at this point that the discharges could not be upheld.”

In the Jan. 23, 2003, ruling he decided it would not be appropriate to reinstate the workers “at this time” but added that “perhaps circumstances relevant to this issue may arise during the next phase of this proceeding.”



For more information on the Jan. 23, 2003, ruling check out O.P.S.E.U. v. Ontario (Ministry of Natural Resources), 2003 CarswellOnt 3343, (sub nom. Ontario (Ministry of Natural Resources) v. O.P.S.E.U.) 115 L.A.C. (4th) 120 (Ont. C.E.G.S.B.).

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