Former Rona Manager Wins Wrongful Dismissal Suit
In 2009, Kai Malmstrom wanted to attend an employee training session held at the Rona where he worked. Unfortunately, Kai is restricted to a wheelchair and the training session was held on the 2nd floor of the building, which does not have wheelchair access. In the DIY spirit of the retail outlet, Kai and other employees fashioned a lift from simply using a ramp Kai brought from home, a wood pallet, and the use of a forklift. It worked with great success, as they used the process again to bring Malstrom back down to the main floor. The day was seen as a success, until Rona’s head office had learned what had transpired.
The fallout from the event saw that Kerry Barton, the location’s Assistant Manager, who was not even present at the time of the event, was promptly fired for failing to prevent it.
Barton later sued Rona for wrongful dismissal, as he had worked for Rona for three years and eight months and was in charge of 140 employees at the time he was fired. He sued for a year’s pay plus $25,000 in “moral damages,”. Ontario Superior Court Justice P.D. Lauwers recently decided in his favour, ordering the home construction chain to pay 10 months’ salary and benefits, amounting to about $58,000, plus legal costs.
Rona spokesperson Michelle Laberge said she can’t comment because a case involving the forklift driver, who was also fired, is still underway.
An initial investigation after the April 2009 incident by a local human resources manager recommended against termination, citing the good intentions of all involved in trying to give the employee “training access he deserves to obtain.”
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