The case of the missing stretch wrap

|Canadian Employment Law Today

Mutton v. AOT Canada Ltd., [2002] O.J. No. 696 (Ont. S.C.J.)

Mutton’s employment was terminated after slightly less than one year. He brought an action against AOT Canada for damages for wrongful dismissal, defamation and punitive damages. AOT claimed Mutton had been dismissed for just cause, alleging he had stolen various amounts of stretch wrap. Mutton said he had taken six plastic bags, not stretch wrap, and he had been given permission to do so.

After the incident was brought to management’s attention, no immediate action was taken in the hopes Mutton would admit his wrongdoing. When this didn’t happen AOT suspended him pending an investigation. A few days later Mutton’s employment was terminated due to the theft. At trial the court held the employer had established the allegation of theft on a balance of probabilities. It further held that, although the stretch wrap was probably of small value, in the circumstances the theft amounted to just cause for dismissal.