Angry bus driver fired for threatening co-workers in separate incidents

Driver knew of city’s strong stance against violence and threats but was involved in altercations on consecutive days
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today

The City of Edmonton had just cause to fire a bus driver who started two altercations with other bus drivers on two separate occasions, according to the Alberta Arbitration Board.

Kirk Sargent drove a city bus for 16 years until his termination. On Oct. 8, 2005, Sargent was involved in a verbal altercation with another driver at the dispatch office. The driver had come in to get a refund for a faulty vending machine while his bus waited outside. Sargent was arguing with the dispatcher over complimentary football tickets and took offense to the other driver’s interruption. The situation escalated into a shouting match. The argument continued when Sargent followed the other driver’s bus in his car and they had another exchange through the vehicles’ windows. The other driver claimed Sargent threatened him, though Sargent denied this.

The following day, Sargent was involved in an incident with another driver. Sargent had requested through dispatch for the bus to wait a few minutes for him at a light rapid transit station so he could catch the bus back to the garage after his shift, which is a fairly common practice among bus drivers. However, the driver of that bus had not been informed and didn’t wait. Sargent encountered the bus in his car later on, which he denied was premeditated. He got on the bus and grabbed the route schedule to check for the wait request. When he couldn’t find it, he got very close to the driver, who was of south Asian descent, and shouted obscenities and racial slurs at him for not waiting. The driver also claimed Sargent punched him in the chest as he did this and threatened to kill him if he didn’t wait the next time. Sargent denied this happened and claimed he had used a calm voice, did not use slurs and didn’t strike or theaten the driver.