Dismissal for fighting in dangerous workplace

No need for progressive discipline if misconduct is serious and worker has no remorse
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 12/12/2012

An arbitrator has upheld the dismissal of an Alberta meat-packing plant worker who started a physical altercation while working on a production line.

Aly Trawere, 26, worked on the gutting table at XL Beefs’ Lakeside Packing Plant in Brooks, Alta. He worked alongside several other employees removing the intestines and internal organs from beef carcasses before the meat was inspected by a government inspector. The work involved the use of sharp knives and a moving platform, so XL had a strict policy against fighting in the workplace due to the potential danger. Though the company used a progressive discipline approach including written warnings, violations of the fighting policy could result in “discipline with the possibility of termination.” Trawere received a written warning for tardiness in March 2011 and another for insubordination in May 2011.

In 2011, several of Trawere’s co-workers complained to the supervisor Aly was often late in coming back from breaks, which added to their workload. On June 2, 2011, the supervisor checked out the table following a break and saw Trawere wasn’t there.