Union argued double jeopardy
Reporting tests that he didn’t complete resulted in a Canadian Blood Services (CBS) worker in Calgary to be fired with cause.
The worker, identified only as "K.L," was required to test temperatures under various circumstances for the agency’s ultra-low temperature (-70 degrees Celsius) refrigerators, used to store donor blood.
But in August 2014, K.L. told a supervisor that he had completed the required series of tests, but there was a problem with the readings. He submitted a non-conformance report indicating the results were not true.
After an investigation, it was determined K.L. falsified earlier results due to what he called an increased workload, as a colleague working in Edmonton was on vacation. The investigation found that K.L. had no other incidents during his 15-year tenure with CBS, so he was given a warning letter on Aug. 13, 2014.
“The investigation also determined that you came forward with information on your own accord and confirmed that at no other time in your 15 years have you not followed SOP (standard operating procedures),” according to the letter.
But after more detailed investigation, the company determined it wasn’t the first time K.L. had falsified records and the only reason he was reporting was to forestall further discipline.
“CBS considers that in light of this new information, it was not the case that you were honest, transparent and forthright of your own accord. Rather, when you were initially asked about the false information, you gave a false and misleading explanation,” according to a Sept. 14, 2014, termination letter.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1846 grieved the case on the basis of double jeopardy, arguing a worker should not be disciplined two different ways for the same incident.
The company refuted this by indicating the original lies about testing were not known at the time of the warning letter.
Jeff Whiting, who was the supervisor and returned from his vacation Aug. 11, reviewed past data after hearing about the falsified reports.
After speaking with K.L., who assured him that this was a one-time occurrence, the decision was made to write a disciplinary warning letter on Aug. 13.
But then Whiting began digging further into the issue, because it was escalated to his supervisor on Aug. 28. Director of equipment services Janice Poce then requested further testing be reviewed due to falsified readings.
Whiting reviewed data from Aug. 8 and found further irregularities that weren’t disclosed during the meeting with K.L.
“For Mr. Whiting, it meant that the grievor had not only falsified the readings entered on the protocol document in July, but had also submitted a false deficiency report dated August 8, i.e, evidence of a coverup meant to hide his earlier deceitful conduct,” said arbitrator Tom Jolliffe.
Jesse Charlton, a quality associate, had reviewed the admitted falsified reports but found that there were some problems with July testing in addition to the August results. When he spoke to K.L. about this on Aug. 7, it was agreed the tests had to be redone.
During subsequent discussions with the supervisor and the grievor, Charlton didn’t raise the issue of falsified data from July, because he felt it was not relevant.
“In all, having weighed the factors and the principles set out in the cases cited at hearing, I do not conclude that this is a case where it is appropriate to substitute a lesser penalty for the discharge, which ultimate disciplinary penalty depends on the grievor having falsified the discrepancy reports on August 8, 2014, which he did, in furthering a coverup of his previous wrongful actions,” said Jolliffe.
“It was a serious workplace offence which would normally result in discharge as fraud, and breach of public trust, with there being no sufficient mitigating circumstances to persuade me otherwise than upholding the discharge.”
References: Canadian Blood Services Calgary Centre aAnd the Canadian Union Of Public Employees Local 1846. Tom Jolliffe — Arbitrator. Craig W. Neuman for the employer. Linda Huebscher for the union. June I , 2016.