Valid severance clause in employment contract limits B.C. worker’s termination pay: Tribunal

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A worker’s attempt to get a bigger severance package than his employment contract allowed has been shot down by a B.C. tribunal.

Anthony Weall was hired by The Dugout Drop-In Centre Society on July 22, 2019, as its executive director, a part-time position of about 50 hours per month. He signed an employment contract that stated he could be terminated without cause at any time.

It said that, in that event, Dugout would provide Weall with “the minimum notice, or pay in lieu of such notice, and any severance pay required by the Employment Standards Act, and no more.”

On Jan. 18, 2022, Weall’s employment was terminated without cause and he was paid severance equal to two weeks’ pay.

Weall argued that the severance clause in the contract meant Dugout had to pay him the minimum notice required under the common law plus severance pay required under the ESA. The company said it meant it only had to pay the minimum notice and severance under ESA, which it did at the time of termination.

The Civil Resolution Tribunal of British Columbia sided with the employer’s interpretation.

“The phrase “no more” shows it was intended to limit Mr. Weall’s entitlement to notice and severance, rather than outline the minimum he was entitled to,” it said.

Since there was no other reason the contract was unenforceable, such as fraud or duress, the severance clause was valid, it ruled.

Weall’s claim was dismissed.

For more information, see Weall v. The Dugout Drop-In Centre Society, 2022 BCCRT 1135 (CanLII)