The BC Court of Appeal recently dismissed an appeal from a trial court decision which found that a disrespectful, inflammatory letter sent by an employee’s legal counsel to her employer was a culminating incident establishing just cause for her dismissal.
The employee began working for a credit union in 1989 and eventually became branch manager. Over time, she developed an ‘unhappy working relationship’ with the CEO. In August 2006, she was asked to attend a meeting with the CEO to discuss ongoing concerns about her conduct. The next day, the employee’s legal counsel sent an inflammatory letter to the employer, alleging invasion of privacy, demanding an apology and threatening legal action. The employer viewed the letter as an act of insubordination which was incompatible with continued employment and dismissed the employee. The trial judge agreed and dismissed the employee’s wrongful dismissal claim at trial.
The employee appealed on the basis that the trial judge made errors of fact which led to the erroneous conclusion that the employer had cause for her termination. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, finding that the trial judge was entitled to reach the conclusions he did based on the evidence and, in the circumstances, dismissal of the action was appropriate.