The case discussed in this article is both an encouraging sign for employers who are victims of employee theft, as well as a warning.
It has probably happened to most of you. It’s noon, you’re hungry, and that amazing Dagwood-esque sandwich that you got up early to prepare for your lunch is waiting for you in the workplace fridge. Except that it’s not, it’s been stolen, scarpered, misappropriated by one of your colleagues.
I am frequently asked by employer clients to describe what type of conduct by an employee will be held by the courts to qualify as cause for dismissal. Employers are often frustrated by the answer they receive – that it seems that nothing less than stealing money from the company will suffice. In the case of long time employees without prior instances of misconduct, theft may still be insufficient. A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court has fortunately clarified the circumstances in which courts will find cause for dismissal as a result of dishonesty. What is striking about the decision is the reliance of the judge on a seemingly insignificant act committed by a nineteen year employee.