Woman fired for texting at work not just cause for termination

Texting at work no reason to be fired: B.C. Tribunal

A Lumby dental assistant was fired for texting during a staff meeting

A North Okanagan woman who was fired after texting on her cell phone during a staff meeting was let go without just cause according to the Employment Standards Tribunal.

Mieka Mandalari was awarded compensation in the amount of $5,163 after the director of the Tribunal found that Mandalari’s termination was a disproportionate response to the actions and attitude attributed to her during a June 20, 2018 staff meeting, particularly in light of her length of seven years of service and the lack of corrective discipline.

Mandalari worked as a dental assistant for Dr. Paula Winsor-Lee in Monashee Dental Centre in Lumby from Dec. 16, 2011 to July 3, 2018 when she was fired after her texting during a staff meeting was found to be ‘inexcusable’.

READ MORE: B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

The dental assistant was handed a letter in Nov. 2014 that claimed she was not a team worker and lacked respect to Dr. Paula Winsor-Lee and the other employees.

Following Mandalari’s termination, she filed a complaint alleging Winsor-Lee had contravened the Employee Standard Act and claimed she was owed regular wages, annual vacation pay, statutory holiday pay, and compensation for length of service.

Jennifer Redekop, delegate of the Director of Employment Standards, found that there was a potential issue concerning overtime and annual vacation pay.

However, during the hearing, Windsor-Lee supported her cause with a number of concerns both she and other employees had in regards to Mandalari’s actions, conduct and interactions with others.

Yet Redekop found Winsor-Lee failed to show there was just cause to terminate Mandalari and awarded her compensation for length of service in the amount set out in the determination.

READ MORE: ‘Human error’ caused mistakes in 32,000 B.C. Grade 12’s transcripts: education minister

Plus, Winsor-Lee was fined an additional $2,000 for contravening the Employment Standards Act.

Winsor-Lee attempted to fight back and appeal the case claiming Redekop erred in law in finding it had not established there was just cause for terminating the employment of Mandalari.

Winsor-Lee acknowledged the circumstances of Mandalari’s termination involved a cumulation of “minor misconduct or performance issues,” and said Redekop erred in law by finding Mandalari’s termination was a disproportionate response to the actions and attitude attributed to her during the June 2018, staff meeting.

The appeal was dismissed as there was no evidence to support Redekop erred in law with respect to the facts of the case.


@Jen_zee
jen.zielinski@bpdigital.ca

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