Cogeco pays for third-party interference

Cable company refused to let former employee, hired by a contractor, work on its projects
By Brian Kreissl
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 06/24/2008

Employers can find all kinds of ways to land themselves in legal hot water. Firing an employee without cause. Unilaterally changing a worker’s duties with no notice or consideration. And turning a blind eye to harassment, to name a few.

Most employers are well aware of those pitfalls. But there are other, less-known areas of law that can put employers on the hot seat. Cogeco Cable found one of these ways when it refused to let Kevin Drouillard, a former Cogeco employee who had been hired by Mastec, a contractor it does business with, to work on its equipment. Drouillard sued Mastec for wrongful dismissal and also set his sights on Cogeco under the tort of wrongful inducement of breach of contract.

Somewhat surprisingly, inducing someone to breach a contract is an action founded on the law of tort, as opposed to the law of contract. A tort is a civil wrong resulting in losses arising out of the breach of a legal duty of care, which is not dependent on the existence of a valid contract between the parties in question.