In Makela v. Horizon School Division No 67, 2019 ABQB 974, Master J.T. Prowse of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench dismissed an employee’s claim for wrongful dismissal arising out of a fixed-term employment agreement. While this case ultimately had a happy ending for the employer, Makela provides a warning for yet another potential pit-fall of fixed-term employment agreements.
In Robinson v. H.J. Heinz Company of Canada LP, Stinson J. found that the Plaintiff, a long term employee of the Defendant, had been constructively dismissed when the Defendant progressively stripped responsibilities from her position after a merger.
When an employee is terminated without cause and offered a package that is very modest, but otherwise compliant with the employment contract, a common first step for his or her lawyer will be to see if the contract can be set aside. If the contract can be declared void, the employee can try to pursue the typically much greater common law damages. There are several grounds upon which courts have set aside either the full contract or at the least, the termination provision. This blog post will focus on the issue of signing the contract prior to the start date.