I have received many calls from employers asking what to do if an employee refuses to follow COVID-19 public health guidelines. In one case, an arbitrator upheld the discharge of a unionized employee who did not follow COVID public health guidelines.
Just cause termination
Progressive discipline uses a progression of consequences that gradually increase in severity to deal with the employee’s continued failure to meet expectations. While progressive discipline signifies that the employer takes these issues seriously, it also demonstrates a fairness with the use of proportionality, where the conduct is weighed against severity. It also allows the employee the opportunity to understand their shortcomings along with repeated multiple opportunities to correct their behaviour.
After a 10 day trial, an Ontario judge recently concluded that touching a female’s buttock in the presence of four witnesses, who had conflicting versions of what happened, was just cause for termination for an employee with 30 years' service who had a clean disciplinary record.