Firing too harsh for worker’s unintentional violation of company policy, court rules

Worker thought she had covered her shift but didn't directly contact her supervisor as per company policy
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today

A daycare worker who was fired for missing and switching shifts was a victim of wrongful dismissal, the British Columbia Supreme Court has ruled.

Rodica Cimpan was an early childhood educator at Kolumbia Inn Daycare Society (KIDS) from 1994 until her termination in late 2005. The executive- director had a positive view of her job performance, with the exception of three incidents where she did not show up for her shifts. Company policy was that employees who can’t make a shift must contact the executive-director in advance so arrangements can be made to cover the shift. It was also in the policy that employees who breached it were subject to discipline ranging from a verbal warning, then a written warning, up to suspension and dismissal.

The previous incidents took place in December 2002 and August 2005, both situations where when Cimpan left a message at KIDS in the evening to say she couldn’t make it for her next shift. Because she didn’t speak with the director in either case, arrangements weren’t made to cover the shift. This was considered a serious issue as staff -to-child ratios were very important. If the centre was short of staff, the safety of the children was compromised. Cimpan was suspended after the first incident and given a verbal warning after the second.