Fired for losing focus

Employee said she needed to come and go as she pleased but neglected core job duties
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 10/03/2012

A British Columbia employer had just cause to dismiss a community health co-ordinator who tried to do too much in the community, an adjudicator has ruled.

Leona Billy joined the Skeetchest’n Indian Band, near Kamloops, B.C., as an addictions and mental health co-ordinator in 2007. The position was newly created to deal with the problem of family violence and substance abuse in the community. Her job duties, which were described to her when she started, included working with other agencies to facilitate addictions and mental health education and awareness, looking for funding for addiction and mental health services, and approaching people with addictions or mental health issues and offering assistance. The band emphasized that the job was not a counselling position, though Billy was a certified therapist with experience in addictions and mental health counselling.

With her background, Billy couldn’t resist counselling some of the people she encountered in the course of her community outreach. She would leave the office to perform some of her outreach services and at the beginning she could come and go as she needed to, and simply leave a note for her manager. However, when a new manager arrived, she was expected to wait for authorization before leaving the office. Various forms were created for approval for off-site work, overtime and lieu time.