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Constructive Dismissal

Sexual harassment allegations not supported but abusive behaviour by manager led to constructive dismissal

In Cooke v. HTS Engineering Ltd., 2009 CanLII 73907 (O.N.S.C.), the court found that the former employee's allegations of sexual harassment were not supported, but that the manager's abusive behaviour supported a finding of constructive dismissal.

By way of contrast, in a recent decision out of Alberta - Pawlett v. Dominion Protection Services Ltd., 2008 ABCA 369 - the Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the trial judge's decision that sexual harassment by the boss led to a constructive dismissal. 

"The Wrongful Dismissal Manual"

Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP has published "The Wrongful Dismissal Manual" (October 2009), which is "designed to provide employers with guidance on the general statutoryand common law principles applicable whenever an employee's employment is terminated in Canada's four main business jurisdictions: British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec."

Judge declines to award special costs in case where unionized employee sued employer in court

The BC Supreme Court judge in Johnston v. Surrey (City), 2009 BCSC 1520, refused to award special costs in a case where a unionized employee filed a lawsuit in court against his employer alleging constructive dismissal.

Background

The long term employee filed a lawsuit in spring 2008 against the defendant employer (and a named individual) alleging that he was constructively dismissed.

Upon receipt of the Statement of Claim, the employer advised the employee of its position that:

  1. the circumstances giving rise to the constructive dismissal - a layoff -  occurred in 1995 and 1996 and thus were time barred by the limitation period set out in the BC Limitation Act; and
  2. the employee was a unionized employee and therefore the claim was not within the jurisdiction of the court.

The employee further requested that the Claim be withdrawn failing which the employer would bring an application to strike the Claim pursuant to Rule 19(24) and seek special costs  read more »

Court denies employee's claim for negligent misrepresentation during the recruiting/hiring process

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia
Sector: - Forestry

Despite the employee's sympathetic facts in Lesage v. Canadian Forest Products Ltd.,
2009 BCSC 1427
, the BC Supreme Court denied his claims for (1) negligent misrepresentation and (2) constructive dismissal.

Background 

The employee started working for Ainsworth Lumber Company Ltd. ("Ainsworth") in 100 Mile House in 2000. He was a divisional accountant or divisional controller.

In the fall of 2006, a representative from another forestry company, Canfor, who knew the employee, contacted him to advise of an opening at Canfor. Canfor ultimately filled this position with another candidate, but subsequnetly discussed with the employee his interest in a Regional Controller position.

The employee was initially not interested in the position because it required living in Fort Nelson. However, in December 2006, Canfor advised the employee that he could be based in Prince George, and that the position would provide him with accounting responsibility for three of its mills.  read more »

BC Employment Standards Branch announces change in how Act's "temporary layoff" provisions to be applied

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

The BC Employment Standards Branch has announced that it is changing how it will apply the "temporary layoff" provisions of the BC Employment Standards Act.

Section 1 of the Act states that a "temporary layoff" means:

  • in the case of an employee who has a right of recall, a layoff that exceeds the specified period within which the employee is entitled to be recalled to employment, and
  • in any other case, a layoff of up to 13 weeks in any period of 20 consecutive weeks;

Section 1 of the Act further states that "termination of employment" includes a layoff other than a temporary layoff.

The BC Employment Standards Tribunal has interpreted these sections of the Act as follows:  read more »

The definition of "constructive dismissal"

Constructive dismissal claims are often asserted but perhaps not well undertand. This begs the question: What is the definition of a constructive dismissal?

In the leading case of Farber v. Royal Trust Co. [1997] 1 S.C.R. 846, the Supreme Court of Canada defined constructive dismissal as follows:

In cases of constructive dismissal, the courts in the common law provinces have applied the general principle that where one party to a contract demonstrates an intention no longer to be bound by it, that party is committing a fundamental breach of the contract that results in its termination.  read more »