Canadian Employment Law Today

May 1, 2013

Focuses on human resources law from a business perspective, featuring news and cases from the courts, in-depth articles on legal trends and insights from top employment lawyers across Canada.

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CELT May 1 2013:celt 467.qxd 13-04-29 10:44 AM Page 12 May 1, 2013 Angry trucker unloads on workers THIS INSTALMENT of You Make the Call features an employee who had some issues with his manners. Allan Crawford, 65, was a truck driver for Pacific Central Carriers, a heavy haul trucking company based in Abbotsford, B.C. Pacific had a policy and handbook for its drivers outlining operating procedures and stipulating drivers must treat customers with "courtesy and respect." Crawford signed an acknowledgement of the policy when he joined Pacific. On Nov. 22, 2011, Crawford was assigned to deliver a large piece of log- Published biweekly 22 times a year Subscription rate: $299 per year Customer Service Tel: (416) 609-3800 (Toronto) (800) 387-5164 (outside Toronto) Fax: (416) 298-5082 (Toronto) (877) 750-9041 (outside Toronto) E-mail: Carswell.customerrelations@ Website: Thomson Reuters Canada Ltd. One Corporate Plaza 2075 Kennedy Road, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M1T 3V4 Publisher: John Hobel Managing Editor: Todd Humber Editor: Jeffrey R. Smith E-mail: ©2013 Thomson Reuters Canada Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The analysis contained herein represents the opinion of the authors and should in no way be construed as being either official or unofficial policy of any governmental body. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada, through the Publications Assistance Program (PAP), toward our mailing costs. GT #897176350 Publications Mail Registration No. 7651 12 How would you handle this case? Read the facts and see if the judge agrees ging equipment to Alberta. Once the equipment was delivered, he would load another piece of equipment and haul it to Kamloops, B.C. The deliveries were being made on behalf of another trucking company who often used Pacific for certain types of loads. The two companies had a close working relationship and the equipment was owned by a major customer of the other company. Crawford had difficulty loading the equipment and felt the operations manager wasn't very helpful. After a difficult trip to Alberta featuring mechanical problems and bad weather, Crawford arrived late in an agitated state. He had some more difficulty unloading the equipment and soon got into a verbal altercation with two workers of the customer when they didn't assist. Crawford yelled and swore at them. When one of the workers noted part of the equipment hadn't been covered for the trip and might be damaged, Crawford became angry again. The two employees moved away to avoid another altercation, later saying they were concerned about their safety. A few minutes later, Crawford stopped unloading the equipment and approached the two workers, yelling and pointing aggressively. He moved up close to one worker's face and swore at him while waving his arms. The worker told Crawford to finish unloading and leave, or have their company finish. The workers left to avoid further confrontation. Pacific's operations manager received a call from the company complaining about Crawford's abusive and foul language and his aggressive conduct. Crawford denied he had arrived angry, though he admitted having a difficult trip. When the operations manager called Crawford to discuss the complaint, Crawford became angry and complained about the trip and poor equipment. After Pacific received letters from the other trucking company and the client company, it decided to terminate Crawford's employment. Crawford filed a claim of unjust dismissal, arguing he had never had a complaint before and dismissal was too harsh. You make the call ✓ ❑ Was Crawford's misconduct just cause for dismissal? OR ✓ ❑ Was dismissal excessive? IF YOU SAID Pacific had just cause for dismissal, you're right. The adjudicator dismissed Crawford's attempts to downplay his state when he arrived to unload the equipment, as it was likely he was in a bad mood after an unpleasant trip. This supported the worker's reports of the incident and the complaint. However, though Crawford's mood may have been affected by his trip and the perceived unhelpful workers, it wasn't an excuse for "threatening and intimidating conduct towards a customer," said the adjudicator. His language and actions were unacceptable and deserving of discipline. The adjudicator also found Crawford didn't accept responsibility for his misconduct. "Mr. Crawford sought to blame everybody and everything for the altercation — the weather, the equipment, the trip, the difficulties loading and unloading the equipment, the lack of assistance from Pacific, (the workers) for 'triggering' his anger — and he sought to minimize and deflect any responsibility," said the adjudicator. The arbitrator noted the other trucking company stopped using Pacific for a while after Crawford's incident, which cost Pacific revenue. Given all the circumstances, the adjudicator found Pacific had just cause for dismissal. See Crawford and Pacific Central Carriers Ltd., Re, 2013 CarswellNat 664 (Can. Labour Code Adj.). Published by Canadian HR Reporter, a Thomson Reuters business 2013 CELT

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