SHP – 178
IN THE MATTER OF AN ARBITRATION
CANADIAN PACIFIC LIMITED
CANADIAN DIVISION BROTHERHOOD RAILWAY CARMEN
IN THE MATTER OF THE GRIEVANCE OF R. F. VATCHER
SOLE ARBITRATOR: J. F. W. Weatherill
There appeared on behalf of the Company:
D. J. David
D. E. Lypka
And on behalf of the Union:
P. E. Perreault
A hearing in this matter was held at Montreal on May 22, 1985.
The Joint Statement of Fact and Issue in this matter is as follows:
JOINT STATEMENT OF ISSUE
Carman R.F. Vatcher, employee No. 520130, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, was dismissed from the Service of CP Rail, on April 19, 1984 for "theft of Company property".
JOINT STATEMENT OF ISSUE
It is the Union’s position that the discipline assessed to Mr. Vatcher was too severe and we feel that he should be reinstated with all rights and benefits as provided in the Wage Agreement and be reimbursed for lost wages.
The Company denies the claim.
There would appear to be no doubt that the grievor, an employee of some five years’ service, did in fact take certain items of company property from the company’s premises on December 24, 1893. He was apprehended by an officer of the company’s investigation department with various items of company property in his possession. It is clear from the material before me that his possession of these items was not authorized.
The company’s investigation department inquired into the matter, and criminal charges were laid against the grievor. The grievor was not disciplined while the criminal trial was pending, nor was any disciplinary investigation then held. The grievor was, however, advised that it was a serious matter, although he was to continue working until the investigation was concluded. The company decided to await the outcome of the criminal trial before undertaking a disciplinary investigation. The grievor continued to work, although he was under closer supervision than before.
On April 9, 1984, the grievor pleaded guilty to certain charges of theft in Provincial Court (having entered a plea of not guilty on a previous appearance). He was subsequently given a conditional discharge to follow a period of six months’ probation.
At the disciplinary investigation held on April 11, the subject matter of the inquiry was the criminal charge against the grievor in respect of his theft of company property. The substance of the investigation is simply the grievor’s confirmation that he did in fact plead guilty to certain charges of theft.
It is true that in some circumstances a plea of guilty would not properly be considered as proof of actual guilt, except for the purposes of the criminal proceedings themselves. There may, as the union quite properly pointed out, be various reasons for a plea of guilty even where a person may not in fact be guilty. In the instant case, however, the action with respect to which the grievor pleaded guilty was the action, which is established by other material than the guilty plea, of being in unauthorized possession of company property. There is no doubt, in the circumstances of this case, that the grievor did in fact steal or attempt to steal company property.
For this, of course, the grievor would properly be subject to discipline. It is argued, however, that the company did not investigate the matter within a reasonable time. It did, of course, investigate the matter promptly upon the grievor’s trial and conviction. It did not, however, conduct a disciplinary investigation promptly upon the matter’s first coming to its attention. This was because the investigation department was proceeding with the matter, and then because criminal charges had been laid. That might not in many cases appear to be a very strong reason for deferring a disciplinary investigation. That deferral, however, was not prejudicial to the grievor. Indeed, it may be that it was to his benefit, and kept him in employment longer that might otherwise have been the case. Further, the grievor was not led in any way to believe that the incident was no longer current; he knew that the matter was a serious one, that it was still under consideration, and that some action would be taken upon the conclusion of the criminal trial. In these particular circumstances, I do not consider that there was any unreasonable delay in conducting the investigation.
The grievor was guilty of theft or attempted theft of company property. He was treated fairly and in accordance with the provisions of the collective agreement. Be was subject to discipline, and for such an offence discharge is an appropriate penalty.
For all of the foregoing reasons, the grievance is dismissed.
DATED AT TORONTO, this 10th day of June, 1985.
(signed) J. F. W. Weatherill