Setting a co-worker on fire seems like cause for dismissal, but…

Employee set fire to co-worker's safety vest as a prank and customer was injured putting it out, but termination too harsh
By Madeleine Loewenberg
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 06/10/2013

A British Columbia arbitrator has provided an important reminder to employers that even extreme acts of workplace misconduct may not give rise to just cause for dismissal, as well as a helpful reminder of the factors arbitrators consider when assessing whether cause exists.

As a prank, Mark Sobieski set fire to some fabric hanging from the back of co-worker Greg Draheim's safety vest.

Although Sobieski extinguished the flame, the vest reignited. Sobieski again put out the flame, then walked away to assist a customer, believing the flame to be entirely extinguished. Although Draheim knew Sobieski was standing behind him, he was unaware his vest had been set on fire.