One would assume that any employer with an ounce of sense would be horrified that such a breakdown in legal and moral behaviour had occurred on their watch, and would take decisive action to send the message that such antics are unacceptable.
Well, the City acted alright. The supervisor in question, Domenic Galamini, was “disciplined” and received “extensive retraining around appropriate workplace behaviour.”
So the first message he received about ordering subordinates to set upon another subordinate didn’t get through? Just what does it take to get fired from the City of Mississauga?
“This is truly an example of what you don’t want to happen in a workplace,” says a somewhat understated Glenn French, president and CEO of the Canadian Initiative on Workplace Violence. “This is an occupational health and safety issue. This is a risk. It seems both the employer and the union failed the workers in this case.”
Judging from previous cases, the City might want to consult legal council in preparation for what could become a very expensive trip through the courts. An arbitrator recently ordered the Greater Toronto Airports Authority to pay a fired former employee $500,000 in general damages, $50,000 a year for lost income, and $50,000 damages for mental distress and punitive damages.
And was she tied up and beaten? Not even close. All they did was fire her after they suspected she was faking an injury in order to collect sick leave benefits.
What’s more, if it turns out the City workers aren’t part of a union, or it is decided the case falls outside the purview of a collective agreement, the victims could have grounds for a civil case as well. “I mean, this is civil assault and battery if this stuff is true,” explains Bruce Pollock, a partner at Stikeman Elliott LLP. “In an organization like the City, which you would expect would have a certain level of HR sophistication, it’s almost a story that’s so far out there it’s hard to believe there isn’t some other explanation for it.”
The whole affair is being dragged into the light just days before Bill 168 is brought into effect in Ontario, which amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Under the Act, employers are legally required to prepare policies with respect to workplace violence and harassment and must include procedures for summoning immediate assistance when workplace violence occurs or is likely to occur.
The City should be counting its lucky stars that these events unfolded when they did.