‘Bagel incident’ leads to termination and wrongful dismissal suit

An employee working as a trainer was terminated without notice after an incident involving; you guessed it, a bagel.
An employee working as a trainer was terminated without notice after an incident involving; you guessed it, a bagel. (Photo: iStock)

Who doesn’t love bagels?

The circular goodies are almost a staple of North American breakfasts. If you are also a fan, you are in good company as this next case, the case of the ‘bagel incident’, will demonstrate.

An employee working as a trainer was terminated without notice after an incident involving; you guessed it, a bagel.

On the day of the incident, the trainer was conducting an internal training session with several employees. In order to make the training session more palatable, she had purchased bagels for those employees.

One employee, who wasn’t in the training session, decided to grab a bagel with the blessing of her supervisor. However, the trainer wasn’t having it. If the non-attending employee was going to grab the bagel, she would have to wait until all those attending got theirs first.

When she went to snatch the bagel, the trainer grabbed her wrist to which the employee responded “get the F. . . off!” and then left – with the bagel.

That’s not where it ended though. The employee reported this incident to the CEO of the company and the trainer was handed a two day paid suspension.

After she returned from the suspension she was fired.

After the firing, the trainer started a lawsuit for wrongful dismissal at small claims court, in which she was successful, and her employer appealed the case to the divisional court.

The small claims judge had found that both the trainer and the employee had acted poorly in the incident and found this wasn’t cause to terminate the trainer, neither were two previous minor incidents in which the trainer was involved.

The judge had also found that the company committed ‘double-jeopardy’ when it went ahead and punished the trainer twice for the same incident, once by suspension and then termination. Under the law, an employee can only be disciplined once.

Finally, the divisional court, on appeal, agreed with the small claims judge, and also found that the termination clause in the trainer’s employment contract was invalid, because it potentially violated the Employment Standards Act.

The divisional court upheld the small claims judge’s decision and the award of $25,000 the trainer was given for five months in lieu of notice.

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