Legion worker wins case, but not reinstatement

Has been shut down since February

A long-time bartender with a British Columbia Legion branch had his grievance upheld after being dismissed for eight given reasons. 

But Jamie McLaughlin was not ordered reinstated despite 28 years of employment. Instead, investigator James Dorsey awarded him $25,000 in damages, back pay, vacation pay and pay in lieu of notice, in a binding recommendation.

“This is one of the exceptional situations in which reinstatement should be denied. The undercurrents in this complex employment and membership relationship, including the role and perspective of B.C. Yukon Command, and the prolonged closure following the imposition of trusteeship, direct me to the conclusion both Mr. McLaughlin and the branch will have a greater chance at success in the community if the branch reopens with new management, new standards of job performance, new standards of cleanliness and sanitation and a new senior bartender greeting members and guests,” said Dorsey.

Lynn Valley Legion branch #144, in North Vancouver, B.C., had a series of financial irregularities and member complaints that led to its closure Feb. 4, 2016, and subsequent takeover by B.C. Yukon Command. The branch remains closed.

The cleanliness issue resulted in a city inspector ordering the building closed Feb. 10, 2016, in order for pest and grime troubles to be resolved.

McLaughlin’s employment was effectively ended via a letter attached to an email that was sent Feb. 7, 2016, after the trusteeship was put into place. McLauglin was on vacation from Jan. 27 to Feb. 4.

Eight reasons given in his termination letter, include unauthorized alternate pay arrangement, dress code violations, cash mishandling, work area and bar cleanliness issues and harassment of legion members, among other reasons.

The investigator explained why each of the reasons was invalid. 

McLaughlin was employed by the legion at a minimum wage, as is stated in the collective agreement, but in 2011, he was offered $1,000 more per month for extra duties such as scheduling, inventory control and security. 

“The additional services contract was long standing, well-known, documented and signed by the past president and current bookkeeper.  The contract was not contrary to the collective agreement.,” he said. 

The dress code violation was not applicable because it had been earlier relaxed and it was authorized in 2008, Dorsey said. 

As for the bar cleanlines, Dorsey listed a number of factors that absolved McLaughlin: he was on vacation during the time of the shutdown, there were no complaints about the bar sanitation and no written standard for keeping the bar clean ever existed. 

“The detection and eradication of mould, whenever it began, was a shared responsibility and not exclusively Mr. McLaughlin’s responsibility,” he said. 
McLaughlin was also accused of harassing two members of the legion. The reason for this seems to be an unsigned letter found behind the bar that petitioned the members to transfer to another branch.

The investigator dismissed the allegation that McLaughlin wrote this letter, in an effort to intimidate the two members into leaving.

“There is no information Mr. McLaughlin had anything to do with this undated and unsigned petition,” he said. 

Reference: Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 114 and Unite Here, Local 40. James Dorsey — investigator. Kevin Woolliams for the employer. Jean Poulton for the union. June 26, 2016.

Latest stories