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After cross-country move, veteran Canadian journalist claims wrongful dismissal

Many employment opportunities require workers to relocate, and an employment contract may include, among other things, an agreement that the employer will pay part or all of the employee's moving expenses. Not having such an agreement in writing could make a claim for reimbursement more difficult to support in the event that there is dispute over the terms of employment.

The cost of relocation and other alleged losses are the subject of a civil claim recently filed in British Columbia Supreme Court. A former editor-in-chief of the online news magazine The Tyee is suing her former employer. The veteran journalist claims that she was wrongfully dismissed after she moved from Halifax to Vancouver to start her new position. The Tyee reportedly hired her in September 2014, and she was fired seven months later. 

The plaintiff's age, 55, and her relocation to Vancouver were cited as special circumstances in determining damages in the case. Her claim states that, because of her age and an especially difficult employment market for journalists, she was left with "no realistic chance of obtaining comparable employment."

The lawsuit also alleges that the plaintiff's employment was terminated in bad faith because she was fired without cause or notice and without a letter of recommendation, and that a "much younger" employee replaced her. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff did not sign an employment contract.

While the outcome of the case remains to be seen, it certainly highlights the importance of drafting detailed, enforceable employment agreements. Leaving too much to chance could be costly for employee and employer alike.

For another example of the issues that may arise in wrongful dismissal claims, please see Overholt Law's previous post, "Former COO for Vancouver company claims constructive dismissal."

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