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Single incident of violent and threatening behaviour towards supervisor supported just cause termination

Jurisdiction: - Northwest Territories

In I & D Management Services Ltd v Mercredi, 2013 CanLII 89793 (NWT LSB), the Northwest Territories - Labour Standards Board determined that an employee's single incident of violent and threatening behaviour towards a supervisor supported just cause termination.

Specifically, the NWT LSB stated as follows:

Both parties to the dispute agreed that an altercation occurred.  The dispute was not directly related to work issues, but was about the relative merits of treatment centres and other personal issues.  All witnesses to the incident stated that Mr. Mercredi pushed Mr. Kerfont three times.  In his February 14, 2012 statement, Mr. Turcotte stated that Mr. Mercredi threw "a bottle of water at Ray hard".  In a statement made on the same day, Mr. Deforrest stated that Mr. Mercredi threw a cup of coffee at Mr. Kerfont.

The question before me is whether or not the single incident of violent and threatening behavior was serious enough to warrant the Employee's termination.  While Mr. Mercredi considered that he had not threatened Mr. Kerfront, his statement contained a definite threat to his supervisor.  Given this statement about knowing where Mr. Kerfont lived and his physical assault of his supervisor on February 13, 2012, there is no question that the policy to which Mr. Mercredi had agreed as part of his terms of employment had been disregarded by him.  The workplace in an isolated camp setting and his assault of his supervisor and the threat of further violence were in clear violation of the Employer's "zero tolerance" policy with regards to workplace violence and intimidation.  The incident was very serious and required several co-workers to restrain Mr. Mercredi.  While Mr. Mercredi submitted evidence that supported his claim that, over a period of time, he had not been properly treated by Mr. Kerfont, there were other alternatives to address this issue than his utilization of violence.   Therefore, as a result of this single incident, I. & D. was within its rights to terminate Mr. Mercredi immediately for just cause.  Consequently, I find that Mr. Mercredi is not entitled to termination pay because I. & D. has provided sufficient evidence to support its action.  It should be noted that initially the Inspector concluded that Mr. Mercredi had not been terminated for just cause and requested a payment of $23,941.25 from the Employer.  However, upon further review, she determined that I. & D. had, in fact, provided evidence to support its claim that it had, indeed, dismissed Mr. Mercredi for just cause.  The Officer concurred with this perspective and, as a result of this conclusion, the dollar amount of the Order issued was the lesser amount of $9,669.24.