Deemed quit provision discriminated against mentally ill employee

Employee's failure to follow procedure for calling in sick was likely because of depression: Arbitrator
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 10/17/2012

An Ontario employer discriminated against an employee with mental illness when it fired him for unauthorized absences after he stopped calling in sick, an arbitrator has ruled.

Chris McGarrity worked for Chicopee Manufacturing, a maker of aircraft parts in Kitchener, Ont. He was subject to the collective agreement that stated if an employee was absent for work without permission for three days in a row, the employee was deemed to have quit his job. The provision allowed for an exception if the employee could establish that the absence was “beyond the employee’s control.”

During his 15 years with Chicopee, McGarrity was disciplined multiple times for missing or being late for work, to the point he was counselled on the importance of arriving on time or properly calling in sick at the beginning of the workday.