Home Featured Quit or fired? Small claims court awarded B.C. construction manager $5,000 severance

Quit or fired? Small claims court awarded B.C. construction manager $5,000 severance

by HR Law Canada

A construction manager has been awarded $5,000 in severance pay from his former employer, Countryside Woodworks, by the British Columbia Civil Resolution Tribunal.

The dispute revolved around whether the manager, JP, was wrongfully terminated or had quit his job.

JP, who began working as a construction manager for Countryside in April 2021, claimed that he was terminated without notice or severance pay in May 2022, and sought damages for wrongful dismissal. There was no written contract, but he was employed at a rate of $30 per hour for an indefinite term.

JP said he was terminated via a phone call on May 2, 2022. The employer, though, said the possibility of ending his employment came up during the call — but it told him it had not yet made a final decision. It also argued that, when JP showed up to turn his debit card, he was told that based on his expectations for severance pay “they would not be able to let him go.”

It also argued that JP refused to return to work, stating he already had other projects lined up. Further, it asserted that, if termination had occurred, he was not eligible for severance because he found another job.

The tribunal ruled that Countryside did terminate JP’s employment without due notice, as evidenced by a text message in which the company acknowledged the need to pay severance. The tribunal determined that, in the absence of a written contract, common law required reasonable notice for termination.

Despite the employer’s claims that JP had mitigated his losses by starting his own business, the tribunal concluded there was no solid proof he could secure similar employment immediately after his dismissal. It acknowledged the financial strain JP experienced due to starting a new venture, highlighting the challenges faced by workers transitioning between jobs.

“I find (JP’s) circumstances would typically warrant an award based on a significantly longer notice period. However, the CRT’s small claims monetary limit is $5,000, so I order (Countryside) to pay (him) this amount,” the tribunal said.

Moreover, JP was awarded pre-judgment interest on the damages from the termination date to the decision date and reimbursement for tribunal fees. The total compensation ordered by the tribunal amounted to $5,499.29.

For more information, see Percival v. Mueller dba Countryside Woodworks, 2024 BCCRT 205 (CanLII).

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