Leaving work mid-shift not just cause for dismissal: Court

Employee’s departure was an isolated incident unrelated to previous discipline; manager’s impression was coloured by previous arguments
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 11/28/2012

A Saskatchewan company did not have just cause to dismiss a driver who left work and went home in the middle of his shift, the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench has ruled.

Warren Ens was a transit and delivery driver in Saskatchewan for GFS Prairies, a wholesale grocery company based in Calgary. Ens had a good employment record during his 10-year career with GFS Prairies, including strong performance reviews and reliability ratings. The only blotches on his record were an incident in April 2009 when he made inappropriate comments to a co-worker and another one, in March 2010, when he complained to his manager that a proposed assignment was too long for him to endure due to back problems. Ens also argued the hours for the assignment would be too long and would be illegal and his manager had assigned him other illegal transit runs in the past.

After his complaints in March 2010 were dismissed, Ens accused his manager of lying and said he would be reporting the company to the Department of Transport. The manager told GFS Prairies it was slander and Ens had a lot of anger. The company gave Ens a written warning, telling him his comments were insubordinate and inappropriate. Ens was warned that further derogatory communication would be considered insubordination and would result in further discipline, up to and including dismissal.