Manager fired for hiding failed relationship with subordinate

Bitterness from breakup caused problems in the office; repeated denials breached company’s trust, court rules
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today

The British Columbia Court of Appeal has upheld the dismissal of a manager who lied about his relationship with a subordinate after their breakup negatively affected the office environment.

Mike Carroll was a branch manager for Emco Corp., a plumbing and heating supplies company in Abbotsford, B.C. He had a three-year sexual relationship with a female employee who reported directly to him. During that time, Carroll was responsible for the employee’s pay raises, discipline, promotions and performance reviews.

In the late stages of their relationship, the employee was sometimes absent from work, which was uncommon for her. Carroll knew the absences were related to their relationship but denied it when a human resources manager inquired about them. Another employee also asked Carroll if he had a relationship with her but he still denied it. Rumours began circulating and Carroll’s supervisor asked him about it, which he again denied.