An employer that fired its branch manager for lying about his office romance with a subordinate had just cause for dismissal, the B.C. Court of Appeal recently concluded.
The manager carried on a surreptitious three-year sexual affair with the employee, during which time he conducted performance reviews, gave her raises and promoted her. When asked by his superiors whether he had a relationship with the woman, he repeatedly denied it. The affair ended bitterly and other employees were affected by the obvious deterioration in the personal and working relationship of the branch manager and his former lover.
The situation was exacerbated when the manager began a relationship with a new female employee. The tense atmosphere of the office disrupted the work and business of the branch. When again confronted by his superiors, the branch manager again denied the three-year affair, until it became clear the truth was already out.
At trial, Mr. Justice Curtis found that the branch manager’s actions were deliberately deceitful and that he knew or ought to have known his employer would want to know about the relationship to avoid the obvious conflict of interest. Mr. Justice Curtis concluded that the employer had just cause for dismissal, as no company could reasonably be expected to renew its faith in an employee who had so deliberately and repeatedly deceived it over an extended period of time.
On appeal, the Court of Appeal rejected the employee’s argument that the employer’s offer to him of another job showed that his dishonesty did not lead to a break down in the employment relationship. The Court found that the new job which was offered had much lower responsibility.
Carrol v. Emco Corporation, 2007 BCCA 186