Mentally and physically troubled worker didn’t mean to quit: Arbitrator

Worker felt frequent absences and medical issues made it difficult to keep going but wasn’t thinking clearly when he submitted resignation
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 02/28/2018

An Ontario arbitrator has deemed a worker with emotional and physical issues who missed a significant amount of work and quit his job because of it didn’t subjectively intend to resign.

Lawrence Sutherland was hired by Lecours Lumber Company, a sawmill in Calstock, Ont., in 1999. Sutherland had several health conditions including diabetes, sciatica, back pain, headaches, anxiety and depression — the latter sometimes causing him trouble with concentration.

In 2016, Sutherland was hit in the head by a log and was diagnosed with a concussion. He was off work for about one month, but when he returned he still didn’t feel 100 per cent. In September 2016, Lecours gave him a letter stating that during the previous 18 months, Sutherland had taken 100 sick days, had two unauthorized leaves, and had been suspended for five days. The company requested that if his health issues kept coming back but could be treated, “we ask that you get all the medical assistance or health advice necessary for you to get better and healthier.”