Leads to Costly
UNFAIR INVESTIGATIONS CAN GET EMPLOYERS IN HOT WATER
An Alberta employee was recently awarded $75,000 for
the reputational harm and mental distress he suffered
from an unfair workplace investigation into his alleged
misconduct and his employer’s unfounded allegations of
cause for his dismissal. The decision in Lalonde v. Sena Solid Waste
is another caution that employers will suffer significant financial
penalty if they dismiss their employees in bad faith.
Kerry Lalonde was a 56-year-old millwright who worked for
Sena for approximately four years. Prior to his dismissal, he re-ceived
no disciplinary warning or suspension. In fact, in the months
before he was let go, Sena sent him a positive letter confirming
that he had earned a merit-based increase to his compensation.
On June 13, 2012, after attending a routine maintenance meet-ing
with staff including his supervisor and a worker named Adrian,
Kerry obtained the usual work permit that authorized his work for
the day. He also spoke with the safety supervisor, Mark Rosenberg,
who wanted to know if Adrian had obtained a work permit. Kerry
told Mark that he did not know if Adrian had done so.
Later that day, Kerry was called to a meeting with maintenance
manager Victor Geogan. During the meeting, Victor alleged that
Kerry put Adrian’s life in danger by allowing Adrian to work with-out
a permit. Victor also suggested that Kerry failed to follow his
supervisor’s direction concerning the disposal of scrap metal, im-plying
that Kerry had taken the metal without permission.
At trial, Kerry demonstrated that he was never assigned to su-pervise
Adrian and did not know that Adrian had no work permit.
With respect to the disposal of the scrap metal, Kerry explained
that his supervisor decided to tidy the warehouse and emptied
bins containing the metal into a larger bin. Contrary to Sena’s al-legations,
Kerry did not disobey any direction of his supervisor.
By Rich Appiah
DRogatnev / Shutterstock.com
HRPROFESSIONALNOW.CA ❚ DECEMBER 2017 ❚ 13