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Air Canada Flight Grounded by Drunk RIM Execs

Whitten and Lublin | Dec 12, 2011

Two intoxicated executives who caused the diversion of an Air Canada flight have been dismissed for unprofessional behavior, the Globe and Mail reports.

According to one passenger, the two Ontario residents were seen fighting with flight attendants, subdued by the crew, and handcuffed to their seats.  The two men pleaded guilty to mischief and have been ordered to pay $72,000 in restitutions.  One of the statements provided by the company was that Research in Motion (RIM) “expects that its employees conduct themselves in a manner reflective of our strong principles and standards of business behavior.”  Although this case seems pretty clear cut, it is worth flagging a few things:

  1. Inebriation does not necessitate immediate dismissal.   Be mindful of the possibility that the employee is not merely intoxicated, but an alcoholic – a disability that is covered by human rights legislation.  In such an instance, firing them without a proper investigation could trigger a wrongful dismissal case, based on a failure to accommodate.
  2. Handle departing senior executives with care.  Especially in the tech industry, competition can be quick to pick up the scraps, and employees with valuable trade secrets may be less inclined to keep them if they leave embittered.
  3. Employees present for the disruption should be offered the resources to deal with any anxiety or emotions stemming from the incident.

Damage control goes beyond appeasing the public.  Amidst considerable pressure to act quickly, ensure that you don’t do so rashly.  If you’re still uncertain, don’t hesitate to reach out for advice from a lawyer.