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Category Archives: Termination

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Employee’s secret recording of meetings with management contributes to finding of just cause for dismissal

Posted in Discipline, Employee Obligations, Just Cause, Litigation, Termination, Wrongful Dismissal

A recent decision from the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench supports that an employee’s use of his work phone to secretly record meetings with management may support an employer’s decision to terminate for just cause.

In Hart v. Parrish & Heimbecker, Limited [Hart], the plaintiff, Mark Hart, sued his former employer for wrongful dismissal after he was terminated for cause following a series of employee complaints against him. In the course of the litigation, Mr. Hart tendered as evidence recordings of conversations he had had with the defendant’s management personnel in the course of the defendant’s investigation into … Continue Reading

British Columbia Supreme Court rules on reasonable notice when an employee is terminated before their first day of work

Posted in Employer Obligations, Litigation, Termination, Wrongful Dismissal

In Buchanan v. Introjunction Ltd., 2017 BCSC 1002, the Court considered a case where the employer terminated the plaintiff’s employment before he commenced work. The Court rejected employer’s argument that the probation period clause applied to limit its liability to provide notice of termination of employment. Despite the contractual termination provisions in the employment agreement, the Court awarded the plaintiff common law reasonable notice. It is important that employers take note of the legal principles in this case if they plan to retract an offer of employment.

Background

On October 16, 2017, Colton Buchanan accepted an offer of employment … Continue Reading

Supreme Court of Canada upholds dismissal of employee for failing to disclose cocaine use in violation of “No Free Accident Rule”

Posted in Employee Obligations, Employer Obligations, Human Rights, Termination

In Stewart v. Elk Valley Coal Corp., 2017 SCC 30, the Supreme Court of Canada recently reaffirmed the two-part test for discrimination in the workplace.  Centered on the termination of an employee’s employment for drug use in violation of a drug and alcohol policy, this decision reinforces employers’ ability to implement and rely upon drug and alcohol policies aimed at promoting a safe workplace.

Facts

Elk Valley Coal Corporation implemented an Alcohol, Illegal Drugs & Medication Policy (“Policy”) aimed at promoting safety at its mine. The Policy contained a “No Free Accident Rule” – employees who disclosed any … Continue Reading

Fishing for Notice: British Columbia Supreme Court addresses inducement and contingency factors in wrongful dismissal suits

Posted in Employer Obligations, Recruiting, Termination

In a recent BC Supreme Court decision, Sollows v. Albion Fisheries Ltd., the court clarified what qualifies as inducement in the context of a reasonable notice period assessment.  The court also took a novel approach to contingency, which can arise where the hearing takes place before the end of the employee’s reasonable notice period.

Background

Don Sollows’ employment was terminated in July, 2016, by Albion Fisheries Ltd. This was Mr. Sollows’ second employment stint with Albion – he previously worked for Albion for 19 years, from about 1985 to 2004.  In 2004, Mr. Sollows accepted the role of senior … Continue Reading

Dependent contractor receives 12 months pay in lieu of notice

Posted in Best Practices, Employer Obligations, Independent Contractors, Termination

The recent Supreme Court decision of Glimhagen v. GWR Resources Inc., 2017 BCSC 761, illustrates how an independent contractor can become a dependent contractor – an intermediate category on the spectrum between employee and independent contractor – as the relationship between contractor and company evolves, as well as the risk a company faces if it fails to address such changes in the contract for service, particularly in connection with contractual termination provisions.

Facts

Lars Glimhagen (“Glimhagen”) began providing services to GWR Resources Inc. as an independent contractor in 1989. For a flat monthly fee, Glimhagen provided GWR Resources with … Continue Reading

Can an employment agreement executed after the employee starts work be enforced? The Ontario Court of Appeal says yes.

Posted in Best Practices, Employer Obligations, Termination

Julia Wood received an offer for employment from Fred Deeley Imports (“Deeley”) on April 17, 2007. Wood accepted the offer during the phone call, and later received an email from Deeley which outlined the terms of her employment. The parties could not recall the date of the email, but it was received by Wood prior to commencing employment with Deeley on April 23, 2007. Then, on April 24, 2007, Wood met with the human resources representative and signed various employment documents, including an employment agreement. Eight years later, Deeley terminated Wood’s employment. Wood commenced a wrongful dismissal action, alleging (among … Continue Reading

While there may be damages for employee’s lack of resignation notice, there is no reliable substitute for an enforceable restrictive covenant…

Posted in Employee Obligations, Litigation, Termination

A 2016 decision of the BC Court of Appeal is a good reminder to BC employers of the purpose of an employee’s obligation to provide reasonable notice of resignation and, if breached, what an employer can expect to recover.  It also underscores the value of an enforceable restrictive covenant.

Background

In 1997, Peter Walker began working as a manager for his aunt and uncle’s business, Consbec Inc., which was based in Ontario and provided blasting and drilling services to the mining, road building, and construction industries. Consbec’s business was based on submitting winning bids for public and private sector clients … Continue Reading

BC Supreme Court clarifies law regarding employment probation

Posted in Employer Obligations, Employment Standards, Termination

The British Columbia Supreme Court recently addressed key issues regarding probationary periods in employment contracts.

Background

In Ly v. British Columbia (Interior Health Authority), 2017 BCSC 42, the contract of employment executed by the plaintiff, Mr. Ly, contained the following probation clause:  “Employees are required to serve an initial probationary period of six (6) months for new positions” (the “Probation Clause“).

Mr. Ly was dismissed from his position after two months and challenged the enforceability of the Probation Clause. He argued that such a brief reference to probation was not sufficient to rebut the common law … Continue Reading

The Alberta Court of Appeal offers further guidance on the principle of good faith in employment

Posted in Benefits, Compensation, Pensions, Employer Obligations, Litigation, Termination

Click here to view our colleagues’ posts titled “Incentive Plans in Alberta can still Limit Entitlements to ‘Actively Employed’ Employees” and “The Alberta Court of Appeal clarifies the organizing principle of good faith with style.” These posts address the recent Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision in Styles v. AIMC, and will be of interest to employers in British Columbia as an example of how the courts may apply (or should not apply, as in this case) the common law principle of good faith in contractual performance in a wrongful dismissal case. This case also serves Continue Reading

Make Whole Remedies and Good Faith Crucial to Mitigation

Posted in Best Practices, Damages, Litigation, Termination, Wrongful Dismissal

A recent decision of the BC Court of Appeal provides a cautionary tale for BC employers seeking to remedy a potential wrongful dismissal.

In Fredrickson v. Newtech Dental Laboratory Inc.,  Leah Ann Fredrickson had worked for Newtech, a specialty dental laboratory, for about 8.5 years, when she took a leave of absence in connection with her husband’s illness and an accidental injury to her son. Newtech’s owner, Vince Ferbey, took issue with the manner in which Ms. Fredrickson took the leave and the effects on Newtech’s operations. When Ms. Fredrickson returned to work on July 20, 2011, Mr. Ferbey … Continue Reading

SCC Grants Leave to Appeal on Canada Labour Code Without Cause Dismissal

Posted in Litigation, Termination, Wrongful Dismissal

Our colleagues in Ontario recently posted here on the case of Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited,where the Federal Court of Appeal held that non-unionized employees in the federal sector do not have a “right to a job” and that dismissal from employment on a without cause basis is not automatically an “unjust dismissal” under the Canada Labour Code. This was a welcome clarification in the law for federal employers, who had previously been faced with a line of authority from adjudicators which limited without-cause dismissals to very narrow circumstances.

The Supreme Court of Canada has granted Continue Reading

Context is Key: New Trial for Dismissed CIBC Employee

Posted in Discipline, Employee Obligations, Investigations, Litigation, Termination

Previously, we posted here on the case of the CIBC employee who had been dismissed for using her personal account to complete a wire transfer for a client in Ogden v CIBC. The initial trial decided only that Ms. Ogden had been wrongfully dismissed and the heads of damages. The trial judge found that CIBC had conducted a flawed investigation of Ms. Ogden’s conduct and there was a lack of clarity, training and consistency in its policies and procedures.

In a decision handed down April 27, 2015, the BC Court of Appeal ordered a new trial. In particular, the Continue Reading

Delinquency Gone Viral: Addressing Employee Misconduct

Posted in Employee Obligations, Investigations, Just Cause, Termination, Wrongful Dismissal

The appeal (and risk) of social media is the speed of communication and the ease of wide-spread distribution by recipients. We have moved well past Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame to an era of 15 seconds of fame. The pace at which a flippant remark or crass conduct can be recorded, broadcast, go viral, then be analyzed, blogged about and rehashed seems to be increasing exponentially. The risk to employees who are unfortunate enough to be identified or caught up in a social media frenzy appears to be on a similar upward trajectory.

The latest example of the race … Continue Reading

Maternity leave was no reason to reduce bonus

Posted in Damages, Employment Standards, Termination, Wrongful Dismissal

Employment agreement interpreted in light of statutory right to maternity leave

The recent decision of the B.C. Supreme Court in Sowden v. Manulife Canada Ltd. is noteworthy for its interpretation of a written agreement regarding bonus payments, and the court’s reluctance to allow an employer to use an employee’s maternity leave as a reason to reduce her bonus payment.

Janice Sowden was a regional marketing director for Manulife Canada Ltd. (“Manulife”). Her remuneration was made up of a base salary plus a variable bonus, calculated partly on her success in recruiting new financial advisors to work for Manulife. In essence, … Continue Reading

‘Unlike’ – Social Media Gaffes Not Cause To Dismiss Communications Manager

Posted in Termination

Lack of Warnings about inappropriate online posts was fatal to employer’s case

As more people use social media to communicate in and out of the office, social media posts by employees are increasingly a concern for employers. In a recent case, the International Triathlon Union (“ITU”) dismissed its Senior Manager of Communications because of negative posts she made on her personal blog and social media accounts.  In Kim v. International Triathlon Union, the British Columbia Supreme Court found there was no just cause for her dismissal because she had not been clearly warned that her communications put her employment … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Affirms Employee Has No Duty to Mitigate Contractual Severance

Dismissed employee was entitled to full contractual severance notwithstanding her failure to mitigate

Posted in Murphy's Laws of HR, Termination

Many employers attempt to define an employee’s right to compensation upon dismissal by having clear, enforceable termination provisions in their employment contracts. But what happens if the dismissed employee is offered re-employment shortly after termination and fails to accept it? Is she still entitled to the full contractual severance amount?

The Court of Appeal, in its recent decision Maxwell v. British Columbia, confirmed the answer is yes: a dismissed employee was found to be entitled to the full amount of contractual severance and did not have to mitigate her damages by accepting an offer of new employment.

In this … Continue Reading

Rare Costs Award at BC Human Rights Tribunal for Improper Conduct

Posted in Discrimination, Human Rights, Legislative Changes, Litigation, Termination

Despite an employer’s legitimate basis for terminating an employee’s employment, it will often find itself a respondent to a human rights complaint following termination. The costs for employers to defend a human rights complaint can be very high and, unlike in the courts, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal does not have jurisdiction to order unsuccessful parties to pay the successful party’s legal fees. However, in exceptional circumstances, the Tribunal has a limited jurisdiction under the Human Rights Code to make punitive costs awards for “improper conduct” that impacts the integrity of the Tribunal’s processes.

The Tribunal found such circumstances to … Continue Reading

Reassignment of CN Employee a Constructive Dismissal

Posted in Constructive Dismissal, Damages, Litigation, Termination

A BC employee has successfully asserted a claim for constructive dismissal after being reassigned to a new position. Younger v. Canadian National Railway Company is a good reminder for employers that the courts may find there has been a constructive dismissal where an employee has been reassigned to a new position involving fewer responsibilities and a reduction in pay.

Younger had been a railway employee since graduating high school in 1973. He started working as a labourer and eventually advanced to a management position at CN. In 2004, CN assigned Younger to the position of Assistant Superintendent Mechanical (“ASM”), which … Continue Reading

BC Supreme Court Declines to Defer to Baptist Church

Churches and other employers must be cautious when relying on internal procedures to dismiss individuals

Posted in Litigation, Termination, Wrongful Dismissal

The B.C. Supreme Court recently decided an application to hear a pastor’s wrongful dismissal claim, which may impact employers both inside and outside of ecclesiastical contexts.

In Kong v Vancouver Chinese Baptist Church, the Vancouver Chinese Baptist Church (“VCBC”) applied to have a claim for wrongful dismissal filed by its former Senior Pastor, the Reverend Alfred Yiu Chuen Kong (“Rev. Kong”), dismissed. Rev. Kong filed the underlying claim after he was dismissed by the VCBC following a long series of VCBC committee meetings and discussions to resolve internal strife involving Rev. Kong.

The VCBC applied to court to have … Continue Reading

Workplace Drug Dealing Provides After-Acquired Cause for Termination

Employer had just cause based on evidence discovered after termination

Posted in Investigations, Just Cause, Termination, Wrongful Dismissal

In most cases, employees who commit misconduct will face the consequences of their actions during their employment, in the form of discipline or even termination for just cause. But, what if the employer only learns of an employee’s misconduct after the employee is dismissed without cause? What recourse does the employer have?

The British Columbia Court of Appeal’s ruling in Van den Boogaard v. Vancouver Pile Driving Ltd affirms that employers can rely on misconduct discovered after an employee’s dismissal to establish “after-acquired” just cause.

Mr. Van den Boogaard was a project manager for Vancouver Pile Driving, a marine contracting … Continue Reading

SCC Decision Regarding Wal-Mart In Québec A Cautionary Case For All Canadian Unionized Employers

Posted in Labour Relations, Litigation, Termination, Unions

Our colleagues in Québec have produced a helpful summary of the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision involving a Wal-Mart in Jonquière, Québec, found to have breached its statutory duties during the freeze period following certification of a bargaining unit.

After negotiations for a collective agreement reached a standstill, the Wal-Mart in question decided to close its doors, for what it alleged to be legitimate business reasons. The arbitrator appointed to decide the Union’s grievance of the closure concluded that Wal-Mart’s decision to close the store was not in the course of the company’s ordinary business and therefore breached section … Continue Reading

What Do Your Policies Say About Termination?

… and does it matter?

Posted in Damages, Employment Standards, Termination, US vs.Canadian Employment Law, Wrongful Dismissal

Many employers have policies about termination, and specifically about what an employee is entitled to if terminated without cause.  It is a good idea to try to manage the cost of terminations, but it needs to be done properly to be effective.

Oliver v. Sure Grip Controls is a recent case where a termination policy was reviewed.  The employer tried to limit its liability by reference to the policy set out in the employee handbook.  The employer had gone to the trouble of having the handbook reviewed and signed by the employee, but the handbook included this underlined statement:

I Continue Reading

From the Desk of the HR Manager: Spring Cleaning – Performing an HR Audit

Posted in Discipline, Employment Standards, Litigation, Occupational Health and Safety, Privacy, Termination, Wage and Hours, Workers Compensation, WorkSafeBC

Our colleagues in Ontario recently posted a very useful outline of an HR audit that will help BC employers ensure they stay up-to-date and on top of the wide variety of employment-related demands in their operations. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.… Continue Reading

No Just Cause for Termination

Problems with clarity, training, consistency and investigation

Posted in Employee Obligations, Just Cause, Litigation, Termination, Wrongful Dismissal

A recent decision of the BC Supreme Court went in favour of an employee who was terminated by her employer for alleged conflict of interest and breaches of policy.  The court determined that there was a lack of clarity, training and consistency in its policies and procedures, and a flawed investigation:  Ogden v. CIBC.

Ms. Ogden immigrated to Canada in 2000.  She learned English and earned a business degree from Royal Roads University.  She went to work with CIBC and built up a portfolio of $233 million working with Chinese clients. She was consistently a top performer.

In the … Continue Reading