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Wrongful dismissal claim denied where employee's company had contracted with the employer

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

The BC Court of Appeal recently held that an individual whose company had contracted with the City of Vancouver could not maintain a personal wrongful dismissal action against the City.

Mr. Zupan was the owner of Mario Zupan Trucking Ltd. (the "Company") and was the principal driver of the Company's one truck. The Company was on the City's "hired truck list" and the City had used the company's services on an almost full-time basis for several years. Among other things, the City required that all truck operators on the list meet certain licensing, safety and registration requirements and also wear certain types of clothing. In 2001, the City removed the Company from the list because of problems with the Company's back-up driver.

The Court held that Mr. Zupan could not bring a wrongful dismissal claim against the City because there was no "legal relationship" and no "employer/employer" between Mr. Zupan and the City.

However, the Court: (1) did not close the door on the Company bringing a wrongful dismissal claim against the City; and (2) noted that in some cases the court has found an independent employment relationship between an individual and the "hiring" company that exists collaterally to the contract between the two companies (for example, where an employee requested payment through his management company for income tax purposes).