Service Advisor Taking Secret Pics of Female Clients = Just Cause

In Durant v Aviation A. Auto ( 2019 NBQB 214 ) Justice LeBlanc had a situation where a 34 years service advisor at a car dealership took secret videos of  female clients and shared them with co-workers. The Plaintiff’s explanation that he was doing it to protect the dealership was not accepted by the Judge.

The Judge considered the following factors in determining   whether there was just cause.

The nature and extent of Mr. Durant’s conduct on August 30, 2018, is  the following:

  1. He surreptitiously took a first video of the female client in attendance at the Audi Moncton premises for improper purposes;
  2. The first video was taken with his work issued tablet computer;
  3. He surreptitiously took a second video and a photograph of the female client with his personal cellphone;
  4. He showed the first video to several co-workers while making inappropriate comments, including mocking the female client;
  5. He showed the second video to Audi Moncton employee Justin Guimond while making inappropriate comments about the female client;
  6.   Over the course of the labour day weekend, he texted the photo of the female client on his cellphone to his co-worker, Mr. Donovan.

In deciding that just cause had been proven the Court made the following comments :

For the reasons already given, a consideration of the full range of misconduct leads to the conclusion that it was very serious.  That misconduct, the invasion of the female client’s privacy and the derogatory comments made during the subsequent viewings of the video, were incompatible with Mr. Durant’s employment obligations toward Audi Moncton.  No plausible explanation was offered for the misconduct and none is evident on an examination of the evidentiary record.

  Durant’s misconduct on August 30, 2018 is very serious as a stand alone incident but it is made more egregious considering that he had been warned of the inappropriate nature of similar conduct in the past, i.e. the warning letter issued in relation to the November 2014 incident and the discussion with Mr. Hambrook in January 2018.  In addition, after August 30, 2018, it came to light that the very behaviour shown by Mr. Durant on August 30, 2018, had occurred several times in the past. 

My Comments :

I take 3 things from this case :

  1. The conduct of the plaintiff was obviously throughly obnoxious and disgusting.
  2. His failed attempt to justify his behavoir, as opposed to apologizing for it, hurt his otherwise slim chance of winning.
  3. The fact that he had been previously warned about similar behaviour sealed his fate.

One can see that if this was the first and only time in 34 years  that he acted in this fashion and if he accepted  responsibility from the beginning, the result may have been very different.