In this matter, the employee worked for GDI Services, a company performing services under a housekeeping and maintenance contract with Hilton Lac-Leamy. The employee held a position on the housekeeping staff.
At the time of her hiring, the employee was informed of the rules of conduct, regulations and responsibilities governing employees and related Hilton policies. A provision of the “Regulations and responsibilities” prohibited taking money (other than tips) or removing any currency found in rooms.
During the eighteen (18) month period of employment, three incident reports had been filed referring to objects left behind by clients in Hilton rooms that were never recovered. These three reports indicated that the room-key data record showed that the employee had entered the room.
That finding sowed “serious doubts” in the mind of a supervisor of the employee. As a result, an “integrity validation procedure” was implemented by Hilton. The process involved placing two bank notes inside a room where the housekeeper was cleaning, at locations where it would not be possible to conclude that a tip was being left for her One bill was placed between the bedsheets and another under the bed.
The housekeeper carried out the cleaning of the relevant room. Once completed, her supervisors disclosed to her that the two (2) bank notes had disappeared but were not reported to Lost&Found. They nevertheless allowed the employee the opportunity to return the notes prior to the end of her workshift, which she failed to do.
At the end of her shift, she was met by GDI in the company of the Hilton supervisors. She was then removed from her duties, suspended pending an investigation and ultimately dismissed. The Union challenged her dismissal.
The tribunal first examined the admissibility into evidence of the integration validation process implemented by Hilton. The Tribunal observed that the Hilton hotel, classified as a 5-star establishment, had to ensure that its clients could, in all serenity, leave objects and money in their rooms. It also pointed out that Hilton had reasonable grounds for proceeding with the validation of the integrity of the employee, as her name had emerged on three occasions during incident reports. The process adopted by management was not intrusive. It occurred during the employee’s work day and there was no video surveillance. The tribunal ruled consequently that there was no illicit breach of privacy of the employee. The evidence was thus admitted.
The tribunal also noted that the employee was perfectly familiar with the rules concerning tips and the procedure relative to property found in the rooms. It noted furthermore that the employee’s version of events was not credible due to the multiple contradictions concerning the location where she had found the money. Furthermore, a reasonable person placed in similar circumstances could not have reached the conclusion that the money was left as a tip. It was clearly a sum of money misplaced or lost by a client.
As the fault of the employee was proved, it remained to determine whether dismissal was the appropriate punishment under the circumstances. The tribunal recalled the duty of loyalty of an employee towards her employer. It also pointed out that the nature of the position held, where the employee worked alone and without supervision, meant that Management had to be able to have complete trust in her. The tribunal also noted the following aggravating factor : the employee “proclaimed loudly and clearly at the hearing that if she found money in the bedsheets, for her, that was a tip, and she wouldn’t report it to her superiors”. All of these elements, when examined as a whole, constituted a breach of the bond of trust between the company and the employee. The dismissal was thus confirmed by the arbitrator.
See : Union des employés et employées de service, section locale 800 v. GDI services (Québec) SEC (Service d’entretien distinction inc.), 2016 CanLII 60058 (QC SAT).