lady justice human rights complaints

In today’s blog post, we are looking at the BC Supreme Court decision of Verigen v Ensemble Travel Ltd, 2021 BCSC 1934. This decision provides an example of the types of issues employers can find with severance clauses in contracts and it also addresses an ongoing theme of employment dismissals during the pandemic.

Background

The employer carries on business as an international travel agency cooperative with an office in Toronto. The plaintiff was a sales manager and business development director in the tourism and hospitality industry for 30 years. In late 2018, she applied for a position with the employer as its business development director for Western Canada and she was offered the job on February 5, 2019. Attached to the email was a formal offer letter, which the plaintiff accepted. The plaintiff started work on February 18, 2019.

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Did you know that the British Columbia Employment Standards Act regulates employment agencies?

It is true. The BC Employment Standards Act sets out parameters governing the definition and regulation of employment agencies in British Columbia.

Section 1 of the Act defines an employment agency as follows:

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severance packages bc

At Hutchison Oss-Cech Marlatt, we pride ourselves on providing up to date advice and information in employment law, including the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on employment law and the assessment of employment law claims. Dana G. Quantz at our firm has provided the below summary to help people consider their legal rights in this pandemic.

What is included in a severance package?

It is a frequent question that employees and employers have in trying to address the value of a severance payment to end an employment relationship. This blog post is going to set out a few of the items that need consideration when evaluating the fairness and completeness of a severance package. We assume for the sake of this blog post that people are clearly employees as different considerations apply to dependent contractors or independent contractors.

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At Hutchison Oss-Cech Marlatt, we pride ourselves on providing up to date advice and information in employment law, including the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on employment law and the assessment of employment law claims. Dana G. Quantz provides the follow summary of an important case in employment law.

Is a unilateral lay-off a constructive dismissal?

In short, the answer is yes. In 2020, there were a significant number of lay-offs by employers with closures of businesses, government shut-downs, and employers and employees needing to accommodate themselves to the new reality of employment in the COVID-19 era.

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At Hutchison Oss-Cech Marlatt, we pride ourselves on providing up to date advice and information in employment law, including the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on employment law and the assessment of employment law claims. Dana G. Quantz at our firm has provided the below summary to help people consider their legal rights in this pandemic.

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Watch our latest video with Ascend Legal 101 where we discuss BC employment law in a changing world. With the COVID-19 pandemic still present, some people may be refusing to work due to concerns of unsafe work environments. Employment contracts have been impacted by the pandemic too. Listen to our chat to learn more about this topic as well as our professional opinions on the matter.

Our Video on The Impact of a Global Pandemic on Employment Contracts

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Watch our latest video with Ascend Legal 101 where we discuss BC employment law in a changing world. With the COVID-19 pandemic still present, some people may be refusing to work due to concerns of unsafe work environments. Listen to our chat to learn more about this topic as well as our professional opinions on the matter.

Our Video on BC Employment Law in a Changing World

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COVID Work in BC

The Workers Compensation Act provides workers with access to benefits for injuries or illnesses that they have suffered in the course of and arising out of their employment. In the right circumstances, a workplace condition can include an infectious disease such as COVID-19. The WorkSafeBC policy requires the individual to have part of their employment be a factor that increases the likelihood that they will become exposed to COVID-19. While this policy was likely drafted with hospital and medical staff in mind, it also likely includes grocery store clerks, pharmacy workers, truck drivers, and other essential workers.

The requirements for compensation under WorkSafeBC for COVID-19 are:

  1. Evidence that the worker has contracted COVID-19, either through a medical diagnosis in a medical report, or non-medical factual evidence where other evidence establishes the existence of COVID-19.
  2. The worker’s employment created a risk of contracting the disease significantly greater than the ordinary exposure risk of the public at large.

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COVID Business Closures and Contract Implications

The law has a few legal mechanisms available to analyze how a global pandemic may impact contractual obligations between people in our society, and we will address two in this blog post.

The first is found in many commercial contracts. These contracts often contain clauses that address events that are beyond the contracting-parties’ control, which are often referred to as “force majeure” clauses.

The second is a common law doctrine that is often applied to contracts, including employment contract, that fail to have specific clauses. This doctrine is called the law of frustration.

A recent case from the BC Supreme Court addresses both legal principles so it is a useful summary to address these principles and how they may be looked at in the context of COVID-19.

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Discrimination Case in BC - Late Filing

In short, no. If you believe that you have a potential claim, then you need to set our your factual allegations and claims before the time limit set in the BC Human Rights Code. That goes for most claims, and is also true for the work discrimination case example below.

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