Jumping the gun on cause for dismissal

Employer’s failure to follow progressive discipline procedure leads to unjust dismissal and one month’s pay for fired employee
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 06/21/2017

A Saskatchewan company must pay a fired employee one month’s compensation when it failed to follow its own progressive discipline policy and resorted to dismissal too quickly, an adjudicator has ruled.

Mark Huber was hired in April 2014 by Spearing Service, an oilfield trucking company in Oxbow, Sask., to be a truck driver. His first performance review six months later indicated he was meeting or exceeding company expectations in 10 of 12 categories, with dependability and communications the two areas where he was unsatisfactory.

Spearing Service had a discipline policy that stipulated any person who didn’t follow applicable legislation or the company’s own safety rules would be disciplined. It set out a program of progressive discipline starting with a verbal caution and retraining if necessary, followed by a written reprimand and suspension if necessary, and finally “suspension, termination or any such action as may be warranted under the circumstances of the incident.” The policy also said that a “blatant disregard” for safety rules that jeopardized the safety of the employee or others “may result in the immediate removal of that individual from the job site.” Huber received a copy of the discipline policy and signed an acknowledgement.