Gun drawing in suggestion box worth suspension, not dismissal

Employee claimed she didn't know what co-worker drew on paper before she put it in suggestion box but witnesses said she glanced at drawing
|Canadian Employment Law Today

An Ontario employee who placed a threatening message in a company suggestion box was deserving of discipline but shouldn’t have been fired, an arbitrator has ruled. The employee was an encapsulation operator for Accucaps Industries, a pharmaceutical drug manufacturer in Windsor, Ont. She worked for the company for for nine years and had a discipline-free record.

In February 2008, an agreement between Accucaps and the union on impending layoffs was causing discontent among many employees. On Feb. 23, the employee took a break with two co-workers, one of whom had a safety tip form. The form was available for employees to make suggestions on improving safety procedures in the workplace. However, the co-worker had written as the safety tip, “Follow the contract you might save someone from going postal one day!” In the space for a sketch, he had drawn a person pointing a gun at another person. As the employee left at the end of the break to go back to work, the co-worker asked her to put the form in the health and safety suggestion box, which she did.

The next day the employee went to the chair of the health and safety committee and told him what she had put in the suggestion box. She said she had been unaware of its contents when she put it in but it wasn’t meant seriously and should be thrown away. The chair thew it in the garbage, but later had second thoughts and brought it to the attention of management. Since the atmosphere at the plant was charged due to the layoff agreement, management took the threat seriously and notified the police.