A person takes a leap of faith when he or she accepts a new job in a new country. Similarly, a company that hires a worker from outside of Canada may be embarking into new territory that elicits questions and uncertainty. A wrongful termination case currently before the British Columbia courts is an example of just such a situation.
KGHM Ajax Mining, a Canadian branch of an international mining company, hired an American in May 2014, Clyde Gillespie, to serve as Manager of Project Development for a new mine. Gillespie moved to Kamloops, along with his wife, from Spokane, WA. KGHM financed the move and allegedly encouraged the Gillespies to purchase a home in Kamloops. In March 2015, he was promoted to Project Manager and received a raise in pay under a new contract.
In July 2015, KGHM Ajax is alleged to have rescinded the new contract. The company claimed that the new contract would have required a modification of Gillespie’s work permit and a new Labour Market Impact Assessment showing that no one living in Canada was as capable of performing the role as a foreigner. Gillespie and KGHM Ajax agreed to terms for a new contract that saw Gillespie’s salary rolled back to its pre-promotion level and the company paying for an immigration lawyer to aid the Gillespies in becoming permanent residents of Canada.
On May 27, 2016 Gillespie was dismissed from KGHM Ajax, allegedly in violation of its own unofficial termination policy. Gillespie claims he found himself without a written contract, and he was left with no potential for work in Canada or the ability to leave the country until his residency status became finalized. KGHM management claims they were merely looking to change the style of leadership within the company. In his suit, Gillespie is seeking compensation for aggravated and punitive damages, as well as his out-of-pocket costs.
The case is still before the courts, KGHM Ajax has yet to file a statement of defence, and no allegations have yet been proven, but this situation is a tricky one for all involved. While the claimant feels he has suffered personally and professionally from what he views as wrongful termination, his former employers feel they were within their rights to make a management change without notice or compensation. Both parties, and indeed any employees or employers embroiled in complicated labour disputes in British Columbia, may find that a local law firm advocating on their behalves can be helpful in settling complex matters.
Source: infotel.ca, “Former Ajax project manager sues KGHM for wrongful dismissal“, Ashley Legassic and Brendan Kergin, August 9, 2016