BLAW 205: Workplace Laws Scenario
John Stavoni and Eric Smith arrived at their workplace – a drilling rig and field office just north of Bassano, Alberta, on Tuesday, May 25, after working consecutively for 20 days in a row. John, 23 years old, had been hired as a rig worker in response to an advertisement by Tiger Resources Inc. (“Tiger Resources”) for a “young, strong man, early twenties, who has an Italian background and no history of criminal offences”. John had worked for Tiger Resources for about 1 year, but never signed an employment contract. Eric is 65 and has worked as a field operations manager (under an employment contract) for Tiger Resources for 25 years. Eric is familiar with all aspects of a drilling rig operation, and has supervised many employees over the years. Despite the fact that Tiger Resources, a private company of about 200 people based in Alberta, did not have any safety policies in place, Eric was very diligent about making sure there were no accidents while he was on shift and he had consistently received excellent performance reviews from Tiger’s upper management.
As they entered the main office, Kelly Brown, a field operations supervisor with Tiger Resources with 30 years experience, left the room. It was well known that Kelly was disgruntled about the fact that she had worked in a similar role to Eric, but received half of the salary that Eric received. Her co-workers had urged her to discuss the matter with senior management, but she was concerned that she would be teased by some of the senior managers and may lose her job if she “rocked the boat” with her concerns. In addition, Kelly had drugs and alcohol dependencies, and Tiger had threatened to fire her many times because of this. She left the office because then she was less tempted to confront Eric about the difference in their two salaries.
John and Eric picked up their pay cheques from their staff mailboxes, and noticed that there had been no overtime pay included. John commented, as he looked at his pay stub, “I still don’t understand why I don’t receive overtime pay when I work the night shift. So many times I’m working on my own anyway, and the whole operation depends on me. This company is a joke. The big bosses downtown drive BMWs and we get nothing for killing ourselves to make this company a profit. I’m tempted to take our client list and go work for our competitors.”
Eric responded, “You think you’ve got troubles... I found out that someone tried to use my social insurance number and direct deposit financial information to access my bank account at the Bank of Montreal in Fort McMurray. Rumor has it that the new office manager had this information on her laptop when it was stolen from her truck – how else could this information be obtained by anyone?”
As Eric was reviewing the previous night’s safety log (written on the back of a napkin), John offered to supervise one of the other rig workers with a task that involved the flow of drilling fluid. John hadn’t performed this particular task before (and in fact knew nothing about the equipment involved), but was confident that he could still help the other worker. He headed out to the drilling platform, sat down, and texted his friend about having a few beers after work with a few Tiger Resources managers, and then driving home so that he can watch the Flames game. While he was texting, an explosion occurred because a pressure relief device on the drilling fluid pump had been set to discharge at a pressure that was more than the maximum working pressure recommended by the manufacturer. The pressure built up, an explosion occurred, and this caused Bill Johnson, a rig worker, to lose his balance and fall into the rotary table, causing his arm to be amputated. At the same time, the drilling fluid, which was normally discharged through a pressure relief device to a holding tank, leaked over the