In Hicks v Len Dubois Trucking ( CarswellNat 6591), an adjudication under the Canada Labour Code, Adjudicator Deeley had a situation where a truck driver with 2 years service had a dispute with his employer regarding a shortfall of $1,140 in a series of 34 pay checks.
When his employer did not get back to him in what he thought was a reasonable timeframe, the driver sent the following email to his boss:
Of the 34 pay periods I have my sheets for, only 6 were actually correct. Even the last pay I got was wrong and I was shorted crossings and picks/loads, again. If a driver got that many loads wrong, we’d be fired long ago. Two weeks to sort out the sloppy accounting Is more than enough time to pay me for the work I’ve already done. I think, considering its obviously been going on for years and you didn’t seem particularly concerned when we talked. If It isn’t sorted out by then, the courthouse and the Labour Board can deal with the issue, plus damages, as they’ve both already sent me the appropriate forms. In legal terms, this is fraud, and I doubt I am the only one being shorted regularly on my pay. That’s major fraud over $10,000.
This email was found to be just cause. This is what the adjudicator said:
61 Mr. Hicks was not fired because he questioned his pay. He was terminated because of the way or manner in which he questioned his pay. He assumed that he had been and would be treated unfairly. Even though in his original April 14th, 2017 meeting with Mr. Sawatzky it was pointed out to him that two of his areas of concern could not be sustained, namely the basis on which he had calculated his claim for mileage, and the fact that he had already been paid for some of his drops or deliveries to Loewen Windows, he still persisted in his belief that his other calculations were absolutely correct, and that the employer would not be able to offer any reasonable alternative explanation. Before even giving his employer an opportunity to review his revised claims, he wrote a totally inappropriate email on April 28th, 2017 that accused his employer of significant misconduct and threatened further action against them. These were serious allegations which amounted to gross insubordination. They were unreasonable and uncalled for at the time in question. They invited and called for significant disciplinary action on the part of the employer, I therefore find the actions of the Respondent to be reasonable on the facts of this case, and that the Complainant, Tim Hicks, was dismissed from his employment for just cause. This complaint is therefore dismissed.
The Employee’s email in essence threatened two actions against the employer;
One, that he would bring either a civil action or a ESA complaint for unpaid wages and,
Two, that he would lay criminal charges if he was not paid the sums he said were owing.
Hopefully the Adjudicator did not consider the threat of civil or administrative actions as insubordination. Every ESA statute contains an anti- reprisal section which allows employees to either assert their rights under the act or to state their intention to do so.
However the veiled threat of the Employee to lay criminal charges unless he was paid what he felt was owing would not only be just cause but may also be also a criminal offence in itself, namely extortion under Section 346 of the Criminal Code, which reads as follows:
346 (1) Every one commits extortion who, without reasonable justification or excuse and with intent to obtain anything, by threats, accusations, menaces or violence induces or attempts to induce any person, whether or not he is the person threatened, accused or menaced or to whom violence is shown, to do anything or cause anything to be done.
(2) A threat to institute civil proceedings is not a threat for the purposes of this section.
In a subsequent Wage Recovery adjudication before the same Adjudicator ( 2019 CarswellNat 6592 ) it was found that the Employee was owed $312 for unpaid wages .