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Defamation

Can a corporate employer sue a former employee for defamation?

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia - United States

In a paper they presented at the CLEBC Employment Law Conference 2013 (held on May 9 - 10, 2013 in Vancouver), Mark Hamilton and Scott MacDonald addressed whether a corporate employer can sue a former employee for defamation for making disparaging claims against their former employer.

Mr. Hamilton and Mr. MacDonald are lawyers at Richards Buell Sutton LLP in Vancouver. The title of their paper was: "Potential Claims Against Departing Employees Without Written Agreements".

Based on their paper and presentation, here are some points of note:  read more »

Supervisor's defamatory appraisal of dismissed employee protected by qualified privilege

In Dawydiuk v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, 2010 BCCA 353, the BC Court of Appeal addressed whether the contents of an email written by a dismissed employee's supervisor were defamatory and , if so, whether they were  protected by the defence of qualified privilege.

Background 

Ms. Dawydiuk began her employment with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia ("ICBC") in 1988 as a clerk. At the time of her dismissal in 2004, she was 38 years-old and in a managerial position.

Ms. Dawydiuk had been off work since June 2003, first on a sick leave and then on a maternity/parental leave.  She was scheduled to return to work on October 4, 2004.

On July 5, 2004, while still on leave, Ms.Dawydiuk was phoned by her supervisor and advised of a restructuring that had resulted in her position being eliminated. Her supervisor advised her of two other available managerial positions, however, and asked her to let him know which one she would like.  read more »

"Untangling The Web: Social Networking in the Workplace"

Melanie D. McNaught at Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti LLP in Ontario presented a paper called "Untangling The Web: Social Networking in the Workplace" at the firm's June 11, 2010 client seminar. The paper addresses the following four questions of interest to employers:

 read more »

Alberta jury awards almost $1 million in damages to employee dismissed for sexual harassment

The case of Elgert v. Home Hardware Stores Limited, 2010 ABQB 73 (CanLII), concerned a senior employee in a management position was dismissed for just cause based on alleged sexually harassment and insubordination. At the time, he had worked for Home Hardware for almost 17 years and was over the age of 50.

The alleged incidents occurred in late 2001/early2002 at the Home Hardware distribution centre in Wetaskiwin, an hour's drive from Edmonton.

The first complainant alleged that the Plaintiff, Mr. Elgert, pushed her into a dark storage room, pushed her up against a table, held her hands down and wiggled his body between her legs.

The second compliant alleged that a few months later while she was cleaning a first aid room in the warehouse, the Plaintiff entered the room, turned off the light and shut the door. He then bumped her backwards until she fell onto a cot. He laid on top of her, and lingered there.

One of the complainants was the daughter of the head of the distribution centre.  read more »

Court has jurisdiction over defamation action brought by unionized employee against employer

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia
Sector: - Education

The BC Court of Appeal has overturned a lower court decision that held that a public school teacher's defamation action against his principal and school board was a matter that arose under the collective agreement and was thus not within in the court's jurisdiction.

Background

The teacher, while off on a medical leave, attended the school and caused a disturbance that resulted in criminal charges and disciplinary action by the BC College of Teachers. (The College's disciplinary action was subsequently overturned by the court on the basis that the teacher had been incompetent due to his medical condition).

As part of the same court action, the teacher brought the defamation action in relation to comments the principal had allegedly made to a police officer.  read more »