Employees and employers rely upon each other to get a job done. Sometimes when the two parties do not see eye to eye on an issue, that relationship can be strained. A large construction project in Vancouver became the site of such a disagreement, and it ended with a claim of wrongful termination.
On November 3, 2014, a man working on a tunnel digging crew for the new Evergreen Line was laid off by his employer. The heavy-duty conveyor mechanic was at the centre of a safety dispute with the companies working on the dig, SNC-Lavalin and SELI Canada. One of his responsibilities was to oversee and approve the installation of a refuge chamber, a safe haven for workers in the event of a cave-in.
The employee refused to certify the chamber unless certain conditions were met. His employers were allegedly pushing him to complete the certification and laid him off after he secured the chamber with a lock to prevent any tampering. The lock was broken the day of the layoff.
SNC-Lavalin and SELI Canada indicated the layoff was due to a slow down at the dig, and the lack of a need for the complainant, as he was one of three workers performing a similar function. In an investigation by WorkSafeBC, it was found the complainant had allegedly been threatened with dismissal on an earlier occasion for bringing multiple safety issues to the attention his health and safety manager. WorkSafeBC dismissed the employer's claim and sided with the complainant. They are now awaiting either a remedy or an appeal from the two companies.
Both employees and employers have responsibilities at a job site when it comes to safety. It is up to everyone involved to ensure that standards are upheld, and no employee should feel unable to voice a concern. No matter what the root issue may be, men and women working in Vancouver, or anywhere in British Columbia, who feel they have suffered from wrongful termination might benefit from the guidance of a labour and employment focused law firm.
Source: Vancouver Sun, "Mechanic on Evergreen Line tunnel laid off for raising safety concerns: WorkSafeBC", Tara Carman, Sept. 8, 2016