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Employment Contracts

Substratum of employment contract had not eroded and termination provisions were otherwise enforecable

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

The issue in Wernicke v. Altrom Canada Corp., 2009 BCSC 1533, was whether the employer could rely on the termination provisions in the employment contract or whether the employee was entitled to common law reasonable notice.


The employee was a chartered accountant in his early 40s, had 12 years of service and was the Chief Financial Officer & VP Finance when his employment was terminated without cause as part of a corporate reorganization in January 2009.

The employee signed a letter agreement at the time of hiring that contained the following termination provisions:  read more »

"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."

Watson Wyatt survey: Canadian companies moving away from stock options for executive compensation

Global consulting firm Watson Wyatt's August 2009 survey of 53 Canadian companies reveals that 28 percent are changing their pay mix – mostly to put more emphasis on
bonuses and performance shares, with less focus on stock options.

Robert Levasseur, senior consultant of executive compensation at Watson Wyatt, states in the September 17, 2009 press release that:

“Stock options are certainly under pressure during a recession where
many organizations have seen their share price plunge by as much as 40
per cent. Many executives have been left with worthless underwater
options and current valuations call for very high option grants which
would be highly dilutive to un-accepting shareholders,” 

“The employee stock option plan will remain a staple in Canadian
executive pay plans because it is the only long term incentive vehicle
that offers a tax advantage to plan participants. However, as
organizations regroup, it is not surprising to see a shift towards
annual cash base incentives.”

"Restrictive Covenants and Non-Competition Clauses in the Employment Context"

"Restrictive Covenants and Non-Competition Clauses in the Employment Context" (June 2009) is the title of a paper prepared by Simon Margolis, with the assistance of Emily Lapper.  Mr. Margolis is a lawyer at Bull Housser Tupper in Vancouver.

Constructive dismissal not found where employee waited 2 years to accept employer's repudiation of the contract

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia
Sector: - Forestry

In ruling that the 59 year-old management employee in Robertson v. West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd., 2009 BCSC 602, was not constructivley dismissed the BC Supreme Court made the following findings:  read more »

Apprentice employee awarded $100,000 in punitive damages because employer covered up real reasons for dismissal

The decision in Marchen v. Dams Ford Lincoln Sales Ltd. 2009 BCSC 400, is noteworthy for four reasons:

  1. it involved an Apprenticeship Agreement made pursuant to the BC Industry Training and Apprenticeship Act:
  2. the dismissed employee was awarded $25,000 in consequential damages because of his apprentice status;
  3. the dismissed employee was awarded $100,000 in punitive damages; and
  4. the dismissed employee was awarded special costs.


In November 2002, the plaintiff, a recent high school grad, entered into an apprenticeship agreement with the defendant car dealership (the "Employer") under the BC Industry Training and Apprenticeship Act. Pursuant to the terms of the Agreement and the provisions of the Act:  read more »