Worker quit in a huff over perceived slights

Pepsi employee claimed racial discrimination and constructive dismissal, but court says it was all in his head.
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today

A warehouse worker for Pepsi who quit in anger was not a victim of racial discrimination or constructive dismissal but rather his own anger, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has ruled.

Harold Ata-Ayi, 59, immigrated to Canada from Ghana and began working for Pepsi in 1980. His employment included annual performance reviews which were usually favourable with the exception of below-target evaluations on four occasions, the last coming in 2003. Ata-Ayi was surprised by the most recent below-target review and testified he felt “insulted and angry” and thought he was being “set up.”

On April 6, 2004, the day after the review, Ata-Ayi refused to sign the review and formally requested early retirement. He claimed the review was “fictitious” and a product of “bad blood and a poisoned environment.” He indicated he expected severance and a retirement package due to his 24 years of good service with the company. His supervisors tried to convince him to reconsider and, when that failed, tried to come up with alternatives such as part-time work rather than full retirement. Ata-Ayi demanded the review be changed and he be given a raise or his retirement request would stand. Pepsi told him the review would not be altered and he would not receive a severance package if he left the company.