Kingston, Ont., textile worker fired after not signing forms

‘Repeated history challenging the employer’: Arbitrator

A chemical fibres manufacturing employee refused to sign a return-to-work (RTW) form — on three separate occasions with six different supervisors — leading to his termination.
Ted Jannack had worked for Invista Canada since 2002, when in April 2017, he was suspended for three days for not completing required virtual training assistant (VTA) testing that was overdue. 
“Ted needs to understand his recent behaviour is further demonstration that he is either unable or unwilling to align himself with our core values, and sustain a level of commitment and performance required of him. This discipline is a final warning that any further incidents of misconduct of any form or failure to comply with direct or procedural instruction, will absolutely result in termination,” read the documentation regarding his suspension.
Jannack had four other instances of disciplinary action on his record.
He was suspended after he repeatedly avoided completing VTAs, or talking to management, during March, despite being asked by manaement on numerous occasions. 
Jannack did not sign the disciplinary documentation. 
Jannack returned to Invista after the suspension, but he took time off due to injury shortly thereafter. 
An RTW was prepared on June 2, and it was signed by Jannack. However, minor changes were made and another one was prepared on June 5.
But on June 18, after Jannack returned to work, Graham Emery, supervisor, and another supervisor went to Jannack’s workstation to get him to sign the RTW.
Jannack was “standoffish” when approached, testified Emery, and he walked away without signing the form.
On June 21, another supervisor and an HR representative met with Jannack and asked him to sign another updated RTW form, but Jannack again refused to sign the document. 
Jannack was “seemingly not engaged” and stared out the window. 
A final meeting was arranged between Jannock and Ken Howe, supervisor, and Shelley Deyo, HR, on June 30. 
They explained that they were to get him to sign “before he gets terminated,” said Howe.
Jannack refused and walked out of the meeting. The front gate record showed he entered the site at 7:19 a.m. and left the same gate at 8:24 a.m.
Jannack was terminated on July 11 via letter: “You were given clear direction in your last discipline letter, indicating that you were being given a final warning and that any further incidents of misconduct of any form or failure to comply with direct or procedural instruction, would result in termination of employment.”
The union, Kingston Independent Nylon Workers Union, grieved and argued that because there were only minor differences in the second and third RTWs, it was unfair to ask Jannack to sign them. 
As well, Jannack wasn’t told that failure to sign was subject to termination.
Arbitrator Derek Rogers disagreed and dismissed the grievance. 
“(Jannack) had a repeated history of challenging the employer in various ways from refusing to adhere to simple safety rules such as keeping his arms covered through to engaging with six members of management in three unproductive sessions aimed at convincing him to cooperate to the extent of reviewing and inscribing RTW agreements that were updated and modestly revised versions of one that he had signed without any reported difficulty days earlier,” said Rogers.
The union’s suggestion that the supervisors should have warned him was dismissed by the arbitrator. 
“An employer must not be put in the position of having to threaten termination in order to obtain the cooperation of an employee, yet that is the effect of the union’s submission based on the observation that none of the managerial employees told Jannack that he could or would be subjected to discipline or discharge if he failed to cooperate,” said Rogers.
“When he was asked on three occasions to sign a revised RTW agreement, Jannack could not pretend that he did not understand that the signature was a matter of some importance to the employer,” said Rogers.
Reference: Invista Canada and Kingston Independent Nylon Workers Union. Derek Rogers — arbitrator. Robert Little for the employer. Ernie Schirru for the employee. Aug. 24, 2018.

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