Arguments, fake gun lead to firing of dietary aide

Violence, workplace harassment must be dealt with seriously: Employer

Cory Tucker — a part-time dietary aide with Specialty Care Trillium Centre in Kingston, Ont. — was fired on March 24, 2014, following an argument and an incident with a firearm.

On March 11, Tucker yelled and swore at the facility’s maintenance and building services manager over a maintenance position for which he had applied. Tucker approached the manager after writing a test required for the application, stating the test was “bullshit” and the manager had no idea what he was doing.

The maintenance manager reported feeling intimidated by Tucker and scared for his physical safety during the confrontation.

Following that incident, it was reported Tucker was seen with a firearm while in the facility’s parking lot.

Tucker, the employer and a representative from the Service Employees’ International Union met to discuss the incidents.

Tucker denied the allegations. He admitted to approaching the manager to discuss the test, saying he thought it was unfair as many of the questions were not related to the requirements of the posted position.

And he admitted to handling a firearm in the parking lot but said the gun was fake.

The employer found Tucker’s actions were unacceptable, showed a gross lack of judgment and were in clear violation of the company’s policies and procedures.

Due to Tucker’s previous discipline — a verbal warning, a written warning and suspensions of one, two, three and five days’ duration — the employer terminated him for cause immediately.

While the union argued Tucker was discharged without just cause and contrary to the collective agreement between the parties, Tucker testified he did not want his job back and blamed the union for not helping him with his previous discipline.
The union argued termination was an overreaction to Tucker’s complaints about the test and the incident with the toy gun was a “red herring.”

Considering these circumstances, the union called for Tucker to be reinstated with compensation or damages in lieu of reinstatement.

The employer argued that workplace harassment and violence must be dealt with seriously and considering the incident with the gun and Tucker’s previous discipline, discharge was appropriate and the dismissal should be upheld.

Arbitrator Norm Jesin found Tucker was insubordinate and the employer was justified in imposing discipline.

While the confrontations themselves might not have justified discharge if Tucker had accepted responsibility for his actions and shown a willingness to avoid outbursts in the future, his disciplinary record together with his continuing negative feelings about the employer led Jesin to find the termination was justified.

As a result, the grievance was dismissed.

Reference: Specialty Care Trillium Centre and the Service Employees’ International Union. Norm Jesin — arbitrator. Christopher J. Edwards for the employer, Robert M. Church for the union. April 28, 2016.

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