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Legal Issues and Action Plan for Employee Discipline in the Case of Wendell

Legal Issues


Wendell was a journeyman plumber in his mid-thirties who had worked without disciplinary incident for some ten years in a non-union position at The Flush Fanatic Faucet Factory Ltd. in Kelowna. Terry, the firm’s HR director, had worked long and hard to find hard-working employees for the firm’s owner, Paul Plungerpusher. Still, the plumbing services business was highly competitive, and if one firm could not answer a call, the prospective customer was sure to find another firm to do the work.

Wendell was an avid ten-pin bowler. He bowled on several teams in several local leagues. He also participated on occasion in cash competitions held at various alleys throughout the Okanagan Valley.

One day, Wendell approached Terry to say that a particularly prestigious bowling tournament was soon to take place at a local alley, but it was on a work day. Wendell told Terry that he wanted to bowl at the event, and if he won he would donate the cash proceeds, approximately $1000, to the firm’s party fund. Wendell said that his chances of winning were very good, and in return for his pledge to the party fund, he wondered if Terry would give him the day off in order that he could bowl at the event.

Terry thought that Wendell’s request was silly, and while he was polite to Wendell, he told him that he could not give him the day off – the firm was simply too busy. Wendell stormed off. It was obvious he was not happy with Terry’s decision.

A few weeks later Terry received a text message on his smartphone a few minutes before the start of work on a workday. The text was from Wendell. It said that he was “sick with the flu,” and that he would not be in at work that day. Terry was upset, because there were several service calls that had been scheduled for Wendell that day and the firm was already short-staffed.

As Terry was thinking how he would try to make up for Wendell’s absence, he recollected Wendell’s comment about the bowling tourney. After performing some research on some local social media platforms, Terry learned that the tournament Wendell had been talking about was scheduled for that very day.

During his lunch break that day, Terry decided to drive over to the bowling alley where the tournament was taking place. Entering the alley, Terry saw Wendell engaged in a close game with another opponent. To Terry, Wendell appeared perfectly fit. He did not appear sick at all. After watching Wendell hit several strikes and then dance a celebratory jig, Terry left the alley.

Action Plan

The next day, when Wendell attended at work, Terry asked him to join him in his office. After Wendell closed the door, Terry described his seeing Wendell bowling the day before, at a time when he was supposed to be “sick.” Terry told Wendell that the firm had had to pass up several valuable service calls due to Wendell’s absence from work. Terry said that the owner, Paul, was furious. Terry asked Wendell for an explanation.

Wendell immediately produced ten, crisp, new hundred dollar bills from his wallet. He said that he had won the tournament, and that he had planned to surprise Terry with his winnings, so they could be deposited into the firm’s party fund. He also said that he was indeed too “sick” to do the type of dirty, physical work that exposed him to the sewage and other bacteria that was a common feature of his plumbing work, but that he was able to manage his flu symptoms while bowling because it was an entirely recreational activity. Wendell also said that he thought a day of “light exercise,” without exposure to the stresses of his work, would cure him faster than spending the day in bed.

Terry asked for a doctor’s note from Wendell. Wendell said he had not been sick enough to see his doctor. He said he’d had a bad night the night before the tourney, and he’d felt poorly during the day, but he had been able to “push through” his symptoms. Wendell said that he’d got a good night’s sleep thereafter, and he was “feeling much better” now.
Terry ended the interview and sent Wendell back to his duties. He then sat down to contemplate what recommendation he should make to Paul regarding discipline, if any, for Wendell, and especially whether Wendell should be dismissed.

Assume you are Terry. Prepare an opinion letter for Paul. It should be 5-6 pages long, inclusive of any cover page, using 12 point type, and 1.5 line spacing. It should also include references to, and a discussion of, at least five legal authorities, apart from your textbook, that would be applicable to the issues raised in this case. At least three of those authorities must be judgments of courts or tribunals that would be binding in British Columbia.

The letter should be in the form that you would deliver to a boss if you were sitting in Terry’s shoes in this real world example. It should be a professional piece of work. You will know, for example, that if there is litigation resulting from your decision relating to Wendell, your letter may be disclosed to him, and to the decision-maker adjudicating the matter, during the course of those proceedings.

You will need to identify the specific legal issues that Paul needs to address in his decision regarding Wendell, as well as the legal tests that courts and tribunals will apply in British Columbia in order to resolve them.

You will also need to set out a plan of action for Paul in order for him to meet his legal obligations in this case. That plan of action must discuss in detail the legal issues, and the legal tests that are applicable to the situation presented. You will also need to communicate precise recommendations to Paul, and give convincing reasons for them, having regard to the relevant legal principles.

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