Death threats: the intention is not what counts

Release date: March 1st, 2019

A cashier challenged her dismissal for uttering death threats against a manager. According to the union, it was obvious that the employee did not intend to act upon this threat, which is a mitigating factor. According to the arbitrator, the intent to act was not a determinant factor. What matters is that threats had been objectively uttered and that a reasonable person would have perceived them as likely. The arbitrator added that uttering threats constitutes a serious offence, especially when it involves death threats, and even more so when it concerns a member of the management team. Considering that the employee uttered threats against the manager, that she repeated these threats and that she behaved in a bellicose, insulting and arrogant manner, the arbitrator concluded that the offence was serious enough to justify disregarding the principle of progressive sanctions. The dismissal was upheld.

Syndicat des employés de magasins et de bureaux de la Société des alcools du Québec v. Société des alcools du Québec, 2018EXPT-1674, 2018 QCTA 421, Richard Marcheterre

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