One of the privileges of being a working woman in British Columbia is having the option to take leave to give birth and begin raising a baby. It is assumed and expected that at the end of the leave, a woman will have the right to return to her original position of employment. One woman in Ontario, however, is claiming that one of the country’s largest sports conglomerates has denied her return to work, and now she is bringing a wrongful termination suit against her former employer.
In February 2016, a 32-year-old human resources employee of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (“MLSE”) left her position to take maternity leave. On June 22, she was given notice by MLSE that her employment was to be terminated at the end of her scheduled leave in February 2017. The explanation given was that the position had been restructured out of existence, and was being replaced with a position that required more senior-level experience than she possessed.
The woman alleges that a posting for the new position listed the same title, job description, necessary experience and salary as the job from which she was being removed. She also claims MLSE informed her that the new position required working late and on weekends, which they felt would be an unfair imposition on someone with a new family. In the lawsuit, the woman claims she is not the first employee to be terminated in this manner. She is seeking damages for violations of the Employee Standards Act and the Human Rights Code. MLSE denies any wrongdoing, past or present.
If the allegations are proved in court, this situation represents a disappointing breach of trust between an employee and employer. The rights afforded to working men and women in British Columbia and across the country exist to enhance lives and secure livelihoods and must not be disregarded. Any person who feels he or she is a victim of wrongful termination may wish to contact a lawyer experienced with provincial employment and/or labour law for help.