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Digest of the Week | Behaviour Outside Work

Digest of the Week | Behaviour Outside Work

Off-duty employee driving fire chief's unmarked vehicle was wrongful dismissal despite no loss of confidence from public or coworkers after failing a roadside breathalyzer test twice


Klonteig v. West Kelowna (District) | 2018 BCSC 124 | British Columbia Supreme Court


Labour and employment law --- Employment law — Termination and dismissal — Termination of employment by employer — What constituting just cause — Misconduct — Behaviour outside work


Employee had been on-call firefighter for about five years before becoming career firefighter in 1995 — Employee was promoted to assistant fire chief in 2005 and became assistant fire chief with employer in 2008 — In 2013, employee was subjected to 90-day administrative driving prohibition after failing roadside breathalyzer test twice — Employee was off duty at that time but was consensually driving fire chief's designated vehicle, which had fleet number on rear but was otherwise unmarked — Employer terminated employee for cause despite expressions of support for employee from co-workers — Employee brought action against employer for damages for wrongful dismissal — Action allowed — Employer had not had just cause to dismiss employee, who otherwise had unblemished employment record and was valued and exemplary employee — Conduct that occurred while off duty had to be, or likely to be, prejudicial to interests or reputation of employer in order to amount to cause — In this case, employee had not been representing employer when he engaged in conduct that led to suspension of his licence — Vehicle was largely unmarked, there was no public knowledge of employee's administrative suspension, and employee was not public face of fire department — Further, employee's conduct was not of same moral reprehensibility as conduct in prior authorities where termination was upheld, and employee's co-workers had not lost confidence in him.
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