If you’ve ever wondered what a clear-cut case of constructive dismissal looks like, you’ve come to the right place.
The general manager of an Alberta concrete plant, earning $120,000 in a full-time position, had his cellphone and laptop taken away and was offered a seasonal driver’s job paying about $30 per hour.
The worker was hired by Transload Services in April 2017 as general manager. His compensation package paid him $10,000 per month, along with a benefit package and vehicle.
Company sold, temporary layoff
In July 2019, the company was sold – but the general manager stayed on under the same terms. On Dec. 24, 2019, the GM was told he was being laid off in order for the company to do maintenance work on the trucks. He understood the layoff would last about one month.
The concrete plant was not winterized, so didn’t operate during the winter. While many of its workers were laid off when the weather got cold, this worker had historically worked through the winter season. His duties included paperwork, providing quotes to customers and he also directed drivers to pick up loads of concrete for customers from plants that were operating year round.
Return to work
The December 2019 layoff continued into April 2020. On April 1, he returned to work – but was told to train a new employee that had been hired to do office work. Further, the general manager was told to give this new employee his cellphone and laptop. He was told he would get a new phone, but never received one.
On June 23, 2020, the company told him he would no longer be the general manager. Instead, he was offered a job as a driver with a compensation package that would pay him either $30 or $35 per hour. Further, his employment would be seasonal and not year-round.
The worker took a leave of absence on July 2, 2020, and said he was rejecting the offer to be demoted. On Aug. 7, 2020, he filed a complaint with employment standards in Alberta.
The company was ordered to pay him the following:
- $2,731.07 in vacation pay
- $4,615.45 in termination pay in lieu of notice
- $734.05 for an Order of Officer fee.
It appealed the ruling, but dropped the objection to the vacation pay entitlement when it got to the appeal. It argued that the general manager was a seasonal and not entitled to notice of termination. If that argument failed, it said he quit and was not constructively dismissed.
The Labour Relations Appeal Body upheld the ruling and ruled the worker had been constructively dismissed. His compensation was substantially reduced, his duties were changed dramatically and he was to become a seasonal employee, it said.
For more information see Certified Redi-Mix Concrete Group v L’Hirondelle, 2022 CanLII 79247 (AB ESA)