If employment is founded on deception, it will be cause for discharge whenever the employer learns of it

Original Source: National Post

Courts have considerable sympathy for employees who have lost their livelihoods. But that sympathy vanishes when there has been dishonesty.

This lesson was learned by Francis Aboagye, who was terminated with cause by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.

AECL employee share access to nuclear facilities and information critical to national security. Accordingly, all its employees must obtain security clearance.

On April 3, 2012, AECL offered Aboagye a position conditional upon his receiving that clearance. As part of the process, he completed a questionnaire delineating his employment history over the previous five years. He did not disclose that he was then working at Ivaco Rolling Mills.

When AECL sought clarification and specifically asked whether he was employed between August 2011 and April 2012, Francis lied, stating that he was unemployed.

Based on the information he provided, Aboagye was granted security access and commenced employment.

Within a few months, several complaints were filed against Aboagye for harassment. AECL interviewed him as part of the investigation, during which he revealed his employment with Ivaco. AECL also learned that Aboagye had lied about attending his father’s funeral in Africa when AECL had tried to reach him earlier that year.

Upon discovering this dishonesty, AECL terminated his employment with cause. Aboagye brought a claim for wrongful dismissal seeking damages of approximately $4 million.

AECL successfully brought a motion to have his claim summarily dismissed, a process that can be used when no real facts are in dispute. On appeal, the Ontario Court of Appeal agreed.

Dishonesty does not always give rise to cause for dismissal. But it will when the act of dishonesty goes to the core of the employment relationship.

In this case, Justice Fairburn found that Aboagye knew the importance of accurately completing the questionnaire yet neglected to tell the truth. When provided with a second opportunity to tell the truth, he lied. This dishonesty was incompatible with maintaining an employment relationship.

It is not dissimilar to any contract. If employment is founded on deception, it will be cause for discharge whenever the employer learns of it.