With a dissenter, a three-person arbitration board upheld the firing of a longtime Epcor employee who was fired after being convicted of stealing more than $200,000 from her elderly mother and sentenced to prison.
The employee, identified in the decision only by her initials, was fired in June 2019 after pleading guilty to theft of more than $5,000 and being sentenced to two years in prison followed by two years of probation. The decision can be found on the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) website.
“I conclude that the employer’s decision that there was just cause to terminate Grievor’s employment,” reads the March 30 ruling by arbitrator David Tettensor. “It was intentional conduct repeated over a significant period of time.”
“It’s hard to imagine that the Verdugo would have passed the security screening.”
Chris Lane, the second member of the arbitration board, agreed with Tettensor’s ruling that the company was justified in firing her.
Through her union, the employee argued that a leave of absence was the most appropriate measure, given her specialist role at Epcor, that the crime was not work-related, and her 29 years of service to the company and its predecessor, Edmonton Power.
The third member of the arbitration board, David Williams, agreed with this line of reasoning in his dissenting opinion, saying that the termination was “without sufficient cause in the circumstances”.
“Grievor has a significant service investment worthy of protection, including the contractual right not to face wrongful termination,” he wrote.
“The employer should have put Grievor on an eight-month leave.”
The ruling describes how the employee was her mother’s sole caregiver for five years at the time she was charged.
She testified that she had been dealing with a gambling problem for 30 years, sought treatment, but relapsed in 2014 after a death in the family.
She began receiving money from her 80-year-old mother in 2017 through wire transfers and stole more than $220,000 before her brother found out and called the police, according to the ruling.
She testified that she intended to return the money, but did not.
Additional charges of fraud and forgery were dropped. The ruling states that she is also required to pay a “significant” financial restitution.
LICENSE OF ABSENCE REJECTED
Since 2000, the woman has worked without any problems as a public service representative (PSR), where she answered calls and guided customers and teams with power outages.
At the time of her dismissal, she was 11 months away from being able to retire on a full pension.
His manager testified that hiring staff was a constant challenge and it took months of training and follow-up to replace a PSR.
These demands led the company to reject the leave idea, despite union objections.
“It would take time, money and resources and then they would have to retrain the returning employee,” testified their manager.
The employee was released from prison in early February 2020 and was on parole until July 2021.
She remains on probation until July 2023, is now working part-time and testified that she has not played since her release.