School board justified in firing custodian who turned bank robber on lunch break

Arbitration board saw holes in his story about stress being the cause and worried for the safety of the school
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today

An Ontario school board had just cause to fire a school custodian who was arrested and convicted of robbing a bank, the Ontario Arbitration Board has ruled.

Michael Cobb, 40, served as head custodian at a small elementary school in the Ottawa area. He had been employed with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board for 18 years with no disciplinary problems or legal trouble and was viewed as a good worker.

However, on Nov. 14, 2003, Cobb robbed a bank while on his lunch break. When police arrested him, he had a starter’s pistol full of blanks and a .22-caliber bullet in his possession. The police report indicated he confessed to the crime immediately. Cobb said that during the robbery he was in a “kind of trance” and he had been experiencing stress from health and marriage problems.