Deflecting the blame for accident doesn’t save aviation worker’s job

Worker argued accident was caused by faulty brakes but employer's investigation found otherwise
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 07/06/2016

An adjudicator has upheld the dismissal of a British Columbia aviation worker who failed to follow safety procedures and caused a potentially dangerous incident, then tried to deflect the blame.

Stephen Komarnisky was a senior ground service lead for Strategic Aviation Services (SAS), a ground handling and passenger care provider for airlines based in Kelowna, B.C. Komarnisky was hired in May 2008 and was responsible for co-ordinating and directing activities while ensuring a safe environment for employees and maintaining fast and efficient services.

SAS stressed the importance of maintaining a “professional and positive image” and leading by example. Komarnisky had performance reviews in 2010 and 2011 that indicated he was performing above a satisfactory level and was a “great worker.” He received a bonus cheque in 2012 for his performance and recognition the year before. In 2013, SAS issued him a corrective action for violating a company policy — the incident was caused by a misinterpreted signal and, while SAS though he might be mildy intoxicated, Komarnisky claimed he only had the smell of alcohol on his clothes from a dart tournament at his home the night before.