Metro cuts ‘grazing’ employee loose

Employee’s explanations for violating company’s anti-theft policy not credible; termination upheld by arbitrator
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 08/22/2013

An Ontario grocery store chain had just cause to dismiss an employee who was caught stealing food from her store’s bakery and deli sections, an arbitrator has ruled.

Silvana Lazzaro, 44, part-time employee with 21 years of service with Metro Ontario, a grocery store chain. Lazarro worked in various departments without any disciplinary record and by 2011 worked in the cut fruit section of a busy store.

Metro had detailed policies in place regarding employee purchases and theft of product. The anti-theft policy made it clear that taking any product without paying for it was prohibited and the company considered it serious misconduct. The policy stipulated termination of employment would likely result for employee caught stealing product. Metro’s employee purchase was similarly detailed, outlining the rules for employees buying store items – it had to be outside their working hours or during hours the store was closed, and another employee had to process the sale at a regular retail station. Employees were informed of both policies and regular reminders were posted in several locations in each Metro store.