City worker’s water use doesn’t wash

Water department worker’s tampering with water meter at home was theft that struck at heart of employer’s interests
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 04/30/2014

An arbitrator has upheld the firing of an Ottawa city worker who was caught tampering with the water meter in his home over a period of several years.

The 46-year-old worker was an operator-in-charge in the water distribution section of Ottawa’s drinking water services department. His responsibilities included directing a handful of employees in the installation, repair, maintenance and operation of the city’s water distribution system. The worker began his employment with the City of Ottawa in 1990.

On Jan. 30, 2012, Ottawa’s deputy city treasurer received an anonymous written complaint that claimed the worker had been “stealing water for years” by modifying the water meter at his home so it didn’t accurately record water use. The complaint also said the worker had helped others alter their meters so they could steal water.