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Swimming coach held to be independent contractor
June 28, 2005

A former swimming coach with 18 years of service to a Victoria swimming club was an independent contractor and therefore not entitled to damages for wrongful dismissal, the British Columbia Supreme Court has held.

The plaintiff had worked as the head coach for the Victoria Amateur Swimming Club for about 18 years, beginning in 1984, under a series of fixed-term contracts. The most recent contract was a two-year agreement that expired on September 1, 2002.

In 1992, the plaintiff also began working as the director of swimming for the Juan de Fuca Coho Swim Club.

In March or April of 2002, the two swim clubs told the plaintiff that his contracts would not be renewed in the fall. The plaintiff commenced wrongful dismissal proceedings, alleging he was either an employee of each of the two swim clubs or a dependent contractor.

The court concluded that the plaintiff was not an employee nor a dependent contractor of either club. It found that he enjoyed a “fairly high degree of autonomy.” For instance, he was permitted to set his own hours of work and neither of the defendants had ever conducted a performance evaluation of him. The evidence also indicated that the plaintiff was subject to some risk of profit or loss through his services. Additionally, he had contracted to work with at least four other organizations during his tenure with defendants.

Based on all of these factors, the court held that the plaintiff was an independent contractor and dismissed his claim.

Jacks v. Victoria Amateur Swimming Club, [2005] BCJ No. 1223 (SC).