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“Wallace” damages double reasonable notice
February 15, 2005

The BC Supreme Court has recently doubled the reasonable notice period of a wrongfully dismissed employee from six to twelve months owing to the employer’s conduct during the dismissal process. The decision was based on the principle in Wallace v. United Grain Growers Ltd, [1997] 3 S.C.R. 701, which permits courts to increase the notice period of dismissed employees who are treated in a “high-handed” manner by their employers.

The plaintiff was 49 years old and had worked as a general manager for the employer for only fourteen months prior to dismissal. He had received no prior warning that his job was in jeopardy. On the day he was dismissed, the employer advised him at the start of a work day, before the full Board of the company, that he was being terminated. Board members subsequently entered the employee’s office and lunged at him in an effort to force him to unplug his computer. They reportedly then pinned him to the wall and called the police when he pushed back. The employee was escorted by Board members to a police car outside the office on the main street of the small town where the company was located.

In these circumstances, the court concluded the employer’s conduct was deserving of reproach and thus extended the notice period to which the plaintiff would have been entitled by six months.

Zadorozniak v. Community Futures Development Corp. of Nicola Valley, [2005] BCSC 26, January 10, 2005