Whistleblowing RBC employee wins reinstatement

Reprisal for employee’s reservations about client loan started campaign featuring negative appraisals and denial of short-term disability benefits
By Bram Lecker
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 01/09/2013

An Ontario arbitrator has ruled that an employee who was dismissed for allegedly abandoning his employment while on an unauthorized medical leave was entitled to reinstatement, back pay and costs on a full indemnity basis.

Devinder Verma was a financial planner at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). In November 2007, Verma became concerned about a client’s lack of documentation in support of a mortgage loan. His branch manager, on the other hand, was eager to facilitate the loan. When Verma expressed his reservations about the client’s eligibility for the loan, the branch manager engaged in a series of reprisals, including accessing Verma’s computer to complete the mortgage application, as well as criticizing him to a supervisor.

The supervisor accepted the criticisms uncritically. In particular, he became concerned that Verma’s accent created a communication barrier with clients. The supervisor encouraged Verma to take courses to improve his English language speaking skills and suggested that Verma would not be in his position long if he failed to do so.