Ridout Barron


Employer ordered to pay damages to employee after his termination

Employers in Alberta may feel they have to walk on eggs when it comes to disciplining employees. Sometimes the courts choose the side of employees, causing the impression that employees can get away with egregious behaviour. One case like this involved the termination of an employee who apparently had a problem with alcohol.

Reportedly, after years of working for a company, the employee began staying away from work. He suffered depression, was divorcing his wife and ultimately admitted to having a drinking problem. His employers continued paying his salary through two stints of alcohol rehabilitation periods, but he apparently kept drinking alcohol. The employer says the man reported for duty on only 21 days over a four-month period.

Employers in Alberta must give employees clear warnings and allow them opportunities to improve their behaviour. In this case, the employer advised the employee in writing that the company is prepared to work with him to establish a plan to return to work, failing which he would be terminated. However, the absenteeism continued, and the employer dismissed him.

The employee filed a claim of wrongful dismissal, and the judge agreed, ordering the employer to pay court costs and damages for wrongful termination. According to court documents, the judge found that the employer could not prove that the employee's alcoholism affected his ability to work. Employers in Alberta can prevent such circumstances by retaining the services of an experienced employment law lawyer. Legal counsel can provide advice throughout any dispute and ensure the required disciplinary steps and warnings are issued before dismissing employees.

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Ridout Barron

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