In the Ontario workplace, snitches do not get stitches — but liars get fired.
Do Canadian employees have a “duty to snitch?”. To a degree. But the degree varies wildly from the circumstances. For instance, a dishwasher who looks the other way when a waiter sneaks sandwiches is probably less culpable than an accountant who condones a colleague’s embezzlement.
Next time you’re wondering about your duty to snitch, consider some of these factors that the courts have deemed important:
Are you being asked a direct question?
Never double down by lying to your employer’s face. This severely compounds the misconduct and could result in your termination. In fact, before a 2001 Supreme Court of Canada case, the general belief was that any instance of employee dishonesty would amount to just cause. To this day, the acceptable excuses are very few and far between. You do not want to be testing these limits.
Are you a supervisor or manager?
Supervisors and managers are in a position of trust relative to their employers. The essence of their job is to keep the workplace running as it should, and to some extent, discipline employees who step out of line. A supervisor or manager who refuses to snitch is failing to carry out a fundamental aspect of the job.
Are you a fiduciary employee?
Some employees – like Senior Management or C-suite employees – are so essential to their employer’s business that the employer is vulnerable to those employees’ exercise of discretion. In a recent case, the Ontario Court of Appeal held that “a fiduciary [employee] who knows about wrongdoing committed against the beneficiary [employer] has a duty to tell the beneficiary “. The court upheld the termination for cause of the employee, a senior manager, in part for failing to snitch.
Are you otherwise in a position of trust?
Other employees, like teachers, doctors, accountants or lawyers, are entrusted to protect the interests of their students, patients, or clients. Failing to snitch when those interests are at stake is likely a breach of the underlying trust relationship essential to those jobs.
Is the conduct affecting you?
If you are being bullied or harassed by your coworkers, supervisors, or managers, don’t be afraid to speak up. In Ontario, your employer has a duty to protect you from workplace violence and harassment. Making a complaint of harassment triggers that duty, as well as a duty to investigate the complaint. Ontario law also protects employees from reprisal. That means that no employee should suffer any negative consequences for making a legitimate complaint.
If you are wondering whether you have a duty to report your coworkers, contact Hyde HR Law today for a consultation.
[crossposted from Goldhawk]