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Contaminated Chocolates Did Not Justify Dismissal
May 10, 2007

The British Columbia Court of Appeal recently put a radio reporter back to work after he sent a critic a box of chocolates that the reporter had contaminated with dirt and raw chicken.

The victim was the head of an activist organization who had publicly attacked the reporter’s journalistic integrity. After mailing the chocolates, the reporter realized his mistake and warned the victim before any injury was caused. The reporter was discharged after he confessed to his employer. The termination was replaced with a three-month suspension at arbitration and the reporter was directed to attend an anger management course. The employer then applied for judicial review of the arbitrator’s decision.

The BC Supreme Court reinstated the dismissal, finding that the employee had damaged his reputation as a journalist and fundamentally breached his employment contract. On appeal, though, the BC Court of Appeal found that the Supreme Court had unduly narrowed the arbitrator’s mandate and had erred by substituting its judicial opinion for that of the arbitrator. The Court of Appeal restored the arbitration award, concluding that the decision to reinstate the employee was not patently unreasonable.

Canadian Broadcasting Corp. v. Canadian Media Guild, 2007 BCCA 232