Supervisor’s aggression towards subordinates justifies dismissal

Correctional officer denied yelling or swearing but three workers reported the same behaviour in incident
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 02/15/2017

There is a fine line between strong leadership and abuse of authority. A New Brunswick corrections supervisor crossed that line with his aggressive behaviour that served as just cause for his employer to terminate his employment, the New Brunswick Labour and Employment Board has ruled.

Mike Lewis was a correctional officer for the New Brunswick Department of Justice and Public Safety. He was hired in 1991 and moved up to a level with supervisory duties in September 2005. Lewis worked at the Saint John Regional Correctional Centre.

Over the course of his tenure at the centre, Lewis took several training courses dealing with topics such as staff development and defensive tactics. He also took courses in verbal conflict crisis intervention, conflict resolution, leading and coaching, and team building when he was given supervisory duties. He had no formal discipline on his record, though management had to intervene and reach settlements with a mediator on a few occasions where there was a problem with Lewis’ interaction with staff. Disciplinary actions were removed from personnel files after 18 months under the collective agreement.