Texting at work can get you in trouble but probably shouldn't get you fired, B.C. tribunal rules

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      Most of us who work in an office are guilty of occasionally letting our mind wander during a meeting and occasionally sending a couple of text messages or scrolling through Instagram for a moment.

      Now we can do so with some assurance that the oh-so-2019 offence will probably not cost us our jobs.

      Earlier this month, the B.C. Employment Standards Tribunal (EST) ruled that texting during a meeting is not a fireable faux pas.

      On June 20, 2018, Mieka Mandalari was in a staff meeting at Monashee Dental Centre when another employee caught her on her mobile device sending a text message.

      According to a summary of events included in the EST’s written decision, Mandalari was reported to her boss, Paula Winsor-Lee, and Winsor-Lee considered the “lack of respect” no less than “inexcusable”. Because Mandalari had received previous warnings for “for not participating as a team worker”, Winsor-Lee decided the text messages warranted Mandalari’s termination, it continues.

      Mandalari subsequently filed a complaint under the B.C. Employment Standards Act which claimed, among other things, that she was owed back wage, vacation pay, and compensation for the term of her six-and-a-half years of employment at Monashee Dental Centre.

      B.C.’s director of employment standards ruled in Mandalari’s favour, the dental clinic appealed, and now the EST has upheld the director’s previous decision and again ruled in favour of Mandalari.

      The employment standards director acknowledged that texting did contravene Monashee Dental Centre’s office policy but decided that Mandalari’s texting was not “a sufficiently serious enough action to warrant immediate dismissal”.

      The tribunal upheld that decision and ordered Winsor-Lee to pay Mandalari $5,164 in compensation plus $2,000 for violating the Employment Standards Act.