Is changing a doctor’s note grounds for dismissal?

In this issue, “You Make the Call” puts the spotlight on an arbitration decision involving a unionized worker at a casino in Windsor, Ont.
|Canadian Employment Law Today

In this issue, “You Make the Call” puts the spotlight on an arbitration decision involving a unionized worker at a casino in Windsor, Ont.

The worker, a slot machine attendant who dealt with money, had been lifting bags at work and was experiencing increasing back pain and stiffness. She went to see her doctor, who diagnosed her with a mild muscle strain and spasms. He prescribed her a muscle relaxant and an anti-inflammatory and took her off work for Sept. 17-18, 2003 — a Wednesday and Thursday and gave her a note to that effect. The worker said she didn’t read the note, had explained to her doctor that she was already booked off Sept. 18 and that a weekend was coming up. She said the note should have read Sept. 17-19. She took the Wednesday and Thursday off, then called in sick on the Friday. When she returned to work on Monday, she was called down to the office to present her doctor’s note. It was then she noticed it was for Sept. 17-18, and she took a pen and altered the note so it read Sept. 17-19.

Her supervisor was suspicious of the note, and thought it had been altered. The casino sought clarification from her doctor, who confirmed that the dates he wrote on the note were Sept. 17-18. The casino decided to terminate her employment immediately.


•Was changing the doctor’s note grounds for dismissal?

OR

•Should the arbitrator have reinstated the worker?


If you said changing the note was grounds for dismissal, you’re correct. The arbitrator in this case said the casino was justified in firing the worker.

“I accept that the bond of trust between the (worker) and the employer has been irrevocably broken and that the employment relationship has been rendered beyond repair,” the arbitrator said. “The employer runs a business which in many respects requires the dependable honesty of its employees, with obvious access to monies and valuables on the gaming floor.”

For more information see;

Windsor Casino Ltd. v. CAW-Canada, Local 444

, 2005 CarswellOnt 7790 (Ont. Arb. Bd.)

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