Court rules re-jig of job description is okay

Adjusting employee responsibilities does not amount to constructive dismissal, says Ontario Superior Court.

Court rules re-jig of job description is okay
One woman who insisted she’d been constructively dismissed has lost her fight in court after an arbitrator ruled it was within the employer’s right to adjust worker responsibilities and re-organize work flow.

Health care worker Susan Bolibruck was employed by the Niagara Health System when her role as health program director (HPD) was altered to include some non-clinical work and a new reporting structure.

Bolibruck was moved from Niagara Falls Hospital to the new St. Catherine's General Hospital – where she was given new and high profile transition work needed for the new hospital.

Despite maintaining the same title of HPD, Bolibruck felt she’d been demoted.

However, the practitioner’s claims simply didn’t hold up – the judge concluded that role changes fit well within an employer’s right to reasonably assign an employee other duties.

The judge explained; “The employer is allowed a certain degree of latitude to reorganize and modify job descriptions and with respect to upward and lateral changes in the responsibilities of its employees provided that the changes are not significant enough to constitute a constructive dismissal".

Employment lawyer Andrew Cogswell says the outcome is good news for employers as altering job responsibilities is often a grey area.

“One of the main roadblocks that an employer will face any time an employee's job title or responsibilities are changed is a claim of constructive dismissal,” he explained.

But the case proves courts have some sympathy for employers.

“This case is positive for employers on a number of fronts and reinforces an employer's right to make reasonable adjustments to employee's roles and responsibilities as the employment relationship progresses,” he adds.

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