Termination warranted for ‘theft’ of services

The grievor had delivered unmetered mail on his own route and asked others to do the same. The grievor found that his dishonesty merited termination, despite the relatively small amount of revenue involved.

A mail carrier was fired after it was discovered that he arranged to put promotional materials into the mail without postage.

G.W. worked for the post office as a mail carrier. He had 11 years’ seniority. There was discipline on G.W.’s record.

In addition to his employment as a mail carrier, G.W. also had a business relationship with a construction company. G.W. scouted contracts for roofing jobs and arranged for the delivery of promotional flyers in areas where the contractors were working.

On the morning of Friday, May 21, 2010, G.W. entered into a conversation with D.B. — a new mail carrier who worked out of the Depot.

D.B. was filling in and delivering ad mail on another carrier’s regular route.

D.B. testified that G.W. approached him and asked if he would be willing to deliver a handful of promotional flyers for the construction company while he was doing the route. G.W. asked D.B. to deliver the flyers to houses that looked like they needed new roofs. G.W. assured him that it was no big deal.

Locked mail boxes

D.B. didn’t initially see many likely prospects on the route until he reached a section of the route that was serviced by a bank of Community Mail Boxes (CMBs). CMBs are locked. Keys are held by residents and by the post office.

D.B. put a number of the flyers into the CMBs along with the other ad mail.

The regular carrier on the route discovered the flyers after the long weekend and reported them.

D.B. was interviewed by the employer and ultimately disciplined.

G.W. was interviewed on June 1. G.W. insisted that he did not know how the flyers got into the CMBs. He acknowledged that he had made an arrangement with D.B. to deliver the flyers. However, G.W. said he assumed that it was understood that the flyers were to be delivered over the weekend while D.B. was on his own time.

Two more incidents came to light around the same time. Another mail carrier reported that G.W. had approached him on the morning of Monday, May 31 with an offer of $50 to deliver some flyers. He put G.W. off by saying he would get back to G.W. However, he testified that he did not like the look of the offer and that he did not like dealing with G.W.

The same flyers were also later discovered inside the CMBs on yet another route.

G.W. was fired.

The employer argued that termination was justified. G.W.’s denials of culpability were not credible. The flyers were delivered on company time, by company staff using company assets. This amounted to stealing from the corporation, the employer said.

The Arbitrator agreed.

While there was insufficient evidence to conclusively prove that G.W.’s offer to the second mail carrier proposed a violation of the rules, he was culpable in the other two incidents as alleged by the employer.

“On two discrete occasions, the grievor used [employer] resources to pursue his own personal gain. In the process, he deprived the Corporation of ad mail revenue… The grievor’s conduct was akin to theft and certainly constituted a serious breach of trust,” the Arbitrator said.

No compelling mitigating factors

The Arbitrator rejected the union’s call for a lesser penalty. While G.W.’s length of service stood in his favour, his employment record did not and there were no other compelling mitigating factors.

The union argued that the loss of revenue in question was not particularly significant.

That missed the point, the Arbitrator said.

“More significant is the pattern of dishonesty. The grievor twice introduced unpaid mail into the [employer’s] system, refused to take responsibility during the investigation and then repeated the dishonesty in testimony before me at the arbitration hearing. The misconduct in question can only be described as planned and deliberate.”

The employer’s interest in deterrence also had a bearing on determining the appropriate penalty in the circumstances.

“Overall I can find no reasoned basis to interfere with the Employer’s decision. The employment relationship has been irreparably damaged by the grievor’s misconduct.”

The grievance was dismissed.

Reference: Canada Post Corporation and Canadian Union of Postal Workers. Arne Peltz — Sole Arbitrator. William Gardner for the Employer. Tom Gollan for the Union. April 30, 2012. 54 pp.

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