Various minor offenses analysed in light of the same gradation of sanctions

Release date: January 3, 2017

A mechanic-welder challenged his two-day suspension for having used his cell phone at work. The arbitrator felt that a two-day suspension was reasonable, in view of the employee’s disciplinary record, which already contained two one-day suspensions for insubordination. The arbitrator added that the gradation principle is not only applicable in cases of similar offenses, at least with respect to minor offenses. As the objective of progressive sanctions is to call the employee’s attention to his obligation to deliver normal job performance, the employer must be able to take more severe measures when a sanction does not produce the desired effect. To act otherwise would prevent an employer from dealing more severely with an employee who is often absent, for instance, when the latter does not provide a reason for his absences, does not comply with regulation, or insults his foreman. It was the arbitrator’s opinion that limiting the principle in this manner would amount to “filtering out a gnat but swallowing a camel”, which would be absurd. The grievance was rejected.

Manac Inc. v. United Steelworkers, Local 2008, DTE 2016T-526, 2016 QCTA 264, François Hamelin Esq.

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