A Canada Post truck driver has been reinstated after he was fired for three safety-related incidents involving unsecured doors on the back of his vehicle.
The incidents all happened within a four-month span in 2021, leading to his discharge after a 27-year career marked by an otherwise clean disciplinary record.
The case centered on incidents on March 18, July 16, and July 29, 2021, where the worker — KE — failed to properly secure the latch on the back door of his 5-ton truck, a lapse in safety protocols which Canada Post argued warranted his dismissal.
The three incidents
March 18, 2021: While completing his early morning routine, KE was stopped by the operations manager, who noticed the truck’s back door was open.
KE received a reprimand after an interview where his failure to use a provided padlock was noted, though it was acknowledged that drivers were not explicitly instructed to use these locks at the time.
July 16, 2021: KE, assisted by a part-time employee, assumed the back door was securely closed after loading mail at the Purolator depot. This assumption proved incorrect when the open door was later observed upon his return.
After admitting his failure to ensure the door was closed, KE was handed a five-day suspension, later reduced to three days considering his circumstances and commitment to avoiding future incidents. Remedial training was suggested but ultimately not pursued, framed as an issue of compliance rather than a need for further training.
July 29, 2021: Shortly after the second incident and while still under the cloud of disciplinary action, KE was observed driving within the Depot grounds with the back door open again. This led to another interview and heightened the seriousness of his situation, emphasizing repeated safety violations and questioning his attention to safety protocols.
Divorce, health issues at the time
KE’s defense highlighted the personal challenges he was facing at the time of these incidents, including dealing with a divorce and health issues, which he believed contributed to his lapses in attention. Despite these personal issues, he admitted responsibility for the incidents and expressed remorse, factors the arbitrator considered in the final decision.
The arbitrator noted that driving the truck with the back door open was a “culpable safety sensitive workplace offense deserving of discipline.”
It ruled the five-day suspension (reduced to three) was reasonable.
While Canada Post viewed the driving of the vehicle with the back door open to be a “life safety” offense, the arbitrator found discharge was too harsh a penalty given his long service, acceptance of responsibility, and the lack of uniform enforcement of company policies on vehicle safety.
It ordered his reinstatement with compensation and without loss of seniority, subject to conditions to be determined.
“During the course of the hearing, the Grievor indicated that, prior to his dismissal, he wanted to work in the plant so that he could get his head around things,” the arbitrator said.
“Equally, the Corporation expressed its concern that the Grievor had become an unsafe driver. In arriving at a reasonable penalty in all the circumstances, I would have preferred to have the parties provide me with their submissions regarding the nature and extent of the alternative penalty – and/or any conditions – which they would seek on the Grievor’s re-instatement.”
For more information, see Canada Post Corporation v Canadian Union of Postal Workers, 2024 CanLII 6709 (CA LA)