20-year employee’s deliberate misconduct leaves him terminated with no pay

Sunira Chaudhri

Sunira Chaudhri

Toronto Employment Lawyer

Park managed inventory employees and also monitored inventory and sales, setting prices and negotiating with vendors. He had security access in several Costco systems and could edit the price and description of products. He earned $74,600 in the role.

The expansion of employee rights has exploded in recent years in Canada.

 

Companies tangled up in legal cases brought on by former employees have received precious little reprieve from the courts — until now.

 

Many of my columns have focused on how hard it is for an employer to establish cause for dismissing an employee. The case of Robert Park v. Costco Wholesale Canada Inc. upheld Park’s termination for cause, thus renewing my interest in this thorny area of employment law.

 

Park started working at Costco in 1995 as a front-end packer. He worked in various positions during his 20-year tenure, including as an assistant buyer in the lawn and garden department in Ottawa.

 

Park managed inventory employees and also monitored inventory and sales, setting prices and negotiating with vendors. He had security access in several Costco systems and could edit the price and description of products. He earned $74,600 in the role.

 

Park had some disagreements with management regarding negative feedback he received and his frustration with the promotion of a peer. In response to these issues, Park admitted he had raised his voice, showed his frustration and swore at work.

 

According to the court decision, in late 2014, Park built a Google cloud-based website for the toys department. He made the website during working hours and shared it with management. Upon returning from a medical leave, Park requested he be transferred to another department. That request was granted. Following the move, Park’s supervisor wrote him an email requesting that he transfer access of the toy website back to management.

 

Park immediately deleted the website and emailed his supervisor, “After a few months of no communication it gives the impression that no one is interested in it.”

 

While Costco proceeded to restore the site, Park again took steps to deliberately delete the website from his computer and recycling bin a few hours later.

 

After a brief investigation that confirmed Park deliberately deleted the site twice, and disobeyed management instructions, Costco terminated him for cause on April 22, 2015.

 

Park denied there was cause to terminate his employment, sued for 24 months of wrongful dismissal damages as well as human rights, bad faith and aggravated damages.

 

Park’s case was dismissed at trial and the for cause termination was upheld. The court found in part, “His actions were not mere errors in judgment; they were intentional, discrete acts involving the destruction or attempted destruction of company property, insubordination, and sending a misleading email.”

 

Park’s case confirms employers don’t need the most sensational facts to proceed with a termination for cause. Deliberate misconduct and some insubordinate emails were enough for the court to find Park breached his employment agreement.

 

While many employers have looked the other way in the face of serious employee insubordination and wrongdoing, this case will rightly encourage employers to call out deliberate misconduct for what it is.

 

Have a workplace issue? Maybe I can help! Email me at sunira@worklylaw.com and your question may be featured in a future column.

 

The content of this article is general information only and is not legal advice.

More In The News

Amber Heard’s counterclaim may backfire

Heard’s counterclaim alleges that since she sought a domestic violence restraining order against Depp in May 2016, he has engaged in “an ongoing harassment and online smear campaign” to effectively end her career.

Read More