Blair Curtis 7036                           Ania Konikowski

TGC Head of Litigation Blair Curtis and articling student Ania Konikowski won an important victory today in a wrongful dismissal case dealing with issues of jurisdiction and contract construction.

Blair and Ania are representing an employee who has brought a wrongful dismissal lawsuit in British Columbia against his former employer.

The employer was applying for an order that the British Columbia Court decline jurisdiction in favour of the courts of North Carolina. The employer argued that the employee had been provided with an employment contract after he started working that said that his employment was governed by the laws of North Carolina and subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of North Carolina.

If the employer had been successful on its application then it would have meant that the employee would be unable to continue his lawsuit in British Columbia and instead would have had to try to pursue a claim in North Carolina under North Carolina law. North Carolina has a very different employment regime from British Columbia that is less favourable to terminated employees.

Blair and Ania successfully defeated the application and kept the case in British Columbia.

In agreeing with Blair and Ania, the Court also clarified a number of important points of law.

The Court found that the employer did not have consideration for a new employment contract presented after the employee had already started work simply because the employer had included some fringe benefits in the new contract.

The Court applied the Douez v. Facebook decision of the Supreme Court of Canada to an employment context for the first time ever in British Columbia, and in doing so confirmed that assessing a forum selection clause in a contract (a clause that stipulates where disputes must be brought/heard) requires consideration of all the circumstances including convenience, fairness, interests of justice, public policy, and the unequal bargaining power employees have when negotiating contracts with employers.

Finally, the Court confirmed that a termination provision in an employment contract is void if it would have become contrary to the statutory minimums at a future date even if the provision complied with those minimums at the time of termination. This is important law in British Columbia, which the Court in this case set out in a clear and decisive way.

Congratulations to Blair and Ania on this great result!  You can read the full decision here: Judge Smith re N v. Biocomposites Inc. 05-11.