Sunday, January 20, 2013

Free legal advice: Employee can be fired for working during breaks

Recently, I was fascinated by a decision by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. An employee as dismissed for working through her break.  Doesn't this sound ridiculous? 

So lets break down the facts to understand it better. 

A sales person who has won numerous awards was given a 'final' warning in writing on account of her abrupt behavior with co-workers and for working beyond her usual hours. This implies that she would skip her breaks by coming back to the shop floor to work. Following this warning, she filed a complaint alleging that she was being given adverse treatment on racial grounds. Even before a hearing was held to look into her complaint, she was terminated. 

In this particular case, the employer's stance is that it has a right to fire an employee for working through a break. Legal issue that rose was: Did the employer fire the employee in retaliation for the complaint she had filed? 

Interestingly, the tribunal agreed with this point raised by the employer and held that the real reason of the dismissal was not a retaliation of any sort.

You can refer to this case in detail here.  

This decision raises several questions. Why should the employers be held liable as per Canada's laws for work that is performed by an employee during break hour? Is this legal approach justified? Does it protect the rights of all stake holders? What is its real objective? Obviously, it puts pressure on employers and adds a severe risk of dismissal to employees who want to work beyond the prescribed hours?

It would be interesting to know your thoughts on this Canada law decision. 


Mridula said...

At least they have a system where you can go to the court if you were fired. How many in the private sector in India would do it? I am curious.

Sanand said...

Good point Mridula, the situation in India's private sector is mostly arbitrary and in favor of the management. Labor laws are practically toothless.