Penis picture shown to supervisor leads to firing of Calgary city worker

Driver asked twice about sending more photos after apology
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 07/23/2019
A worker for the Calgary roads department was promptly terminated after he apparently showed an inappropriate photograph directly to his boss via his cellphone. Shutterstock

A worker for the Calgary roads department was promptly terminated after he apparently showed the wrong photograph directly to his boss via his cellphone.

Norman Mossman had worked as driver/operator/labourer for the roads department. He was first hired as a seasonal employee in 1988 and became a full-time employee in 2001.

In the roads department, there were about 425 employees and only 16 were female, according to district manager Rick Billington. Mossman’s foreman was a woman, who was identified as “AB” during the arbitration hearing.

Mossman had reported to AB for 10 years as foreman and later as district foreman.

Employees regularly used cellphones to communicate with foremen but beginning in February 2017, Mossman started to send sexually charged messages after AB’s divorce from her husband.

AB testified that Mossman had become sexually interested in her but at no time did she reciprocate. She said that as a woman, she was often faced with sexual messages from male employees but her strategy was to ignore or laugh off such attention so as not to cause too much trouble in the workplace.

Some of the text examples sent said: “Wish I had a good woman in my life to help me” or “Hello pretty lady” or “I missed you.”

On May 24, 2017, Mossman texted AB to thank her for a service award he received. “Now I guess I owe you dinner and a movie and a few drinks. I hope you are doing well. Take care.”

AB ignored the request and the following day sent a reply message. “You’re welcome. I’m doing fucking awesome! Have a good one!!!”

The message should have been clear, said AB, that she wasn’t interested in the date request and he should have refrained from any more similar requests. But Mossman continued to send sexually charged texts.

On Jan. 9, 2018, Mossman sent a message that showed an ankle swelling but also included a penis. The message was laughed off, said AB, as it was something that she had previously seen on social media.

More messages were sent by Mossman but on April 25, in response to AB’s request to see a photo of damage to his truck, he swiped through the pictures app on his phone and showed AB a picture of his erect penis. Mossman apologized but later he twice asked her if she wanted a copy of the image sent to her via text.

AB later spoke to another district foreman about the incident. She also contacted Billington and began the process of a formal complaint against Mossman. He was suspended with pay that day and on May 8, Mossman was dismissed. “You admitted to showing the photo of your penis to your foreman and asking her if she wanted a copy on two separate occasions,” said the letter.

The union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Local 37, grieved the firing on June 22. Mossman wrote a letter of apology on June 25.

Arbitrator James Casey upheld the termination.

“(Mossman’s) misconduct is aggravated by his attempt to undermine AB with one of her subordinates during the investigation by telling him not to ‘fking trust her’ (sic). The message shows that (Mossman) was blaming the victim for ‘betraying’ him, instead of accepting responsibility for his misconduct. He continues to deny he showed AB the photograph intentionally. I find that he has not truly accepted accountability for his actions. I am not convinced that he understands the impact of his behaviour on others. Unfortunately, I am not convinced ‘he gets it.’”

If the viewing of the penis was truly accidental, said Casey, the case might have been decided differently. “However, the intentional nature of (Mossman’s) misconduct is an aggravating factor especially given that he twice presses AB to accept a copy of the photograph through the offer in the office to send her the picture and again a few hours later while he was out working in the field.”

Reference: The Corporation of the City of Calgary and Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 37. James Casey — arbitrator. Avril Fisher for the employer. E. Wayne Benedict for the employee. May 30, 2019. 2019 CarswellAlta 1073

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