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Wrongful dismissal found in forklift case

TORONTO, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- A Canadian hardware company wrongfully fired a man after a wheelchair-bound employee was lifted to the second floor on a forklift, a court ruled.

In a ruling in Toronto, the judge said the Rona big-box retail chain was wrong in firing assistant store manager Kerry Barton in 2009 when about 12 staff used a forklift to hoist a coworker in a wheelchair up to the second floor for a training session, the National Post reported.

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The incident in Barrie, 70 miles north of Toronto, was witnessed by a staff member who complained the group strapped the disabled worker's chair onto a skid and slowly lifted him up so he could attend the meeting.

There was no other access to the second floor, the court heard.

Rona fired the forklift operator and disciplined most of the other workers, but Judge Peter Lauwers of Ontario Superior Court said Barton wasn't present at the time and had earlier told staff to share what they learned with the disabled worker afterwards.

The company, which says on its Web site is the "largest Canadian distributor of hardware, home renovation and gardening products," argued in court Barton was aware of the company's rules that no one may ride on forklifts, but didn't do enough to stop the workers.

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The judge awarded Barton $59,000 plus legal costs, the Post said.

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