Extra severance for callously dismissed banquet manager

De Guzman v. Marine drive Golf Club, 2003 CarswellBC 1956, 2003 BCPC 284 (B.C. Prov. Ct.)

Noel de Guzman was fired from his job as banquet manager at the Marine Drive Golf Club in Vancouver and was given eight weeks’ pay plus benefits money. His employer said he was let go due to a restructuring that eliminated his position.

As banquet manager, de Guzman was responsible for running functions, hiring and training staff and bringing in business.

By all accounts he was good at his job. His first year as banquet co-ordinator (after he had been promoted from banquet captain) was the best year ever and he was given bonuses as a result.

His supervisor, Ken Dick, testified that de Guzman may have been let go because he didn’t get along with the new club manager, Ming Jang. De Guzman said Jang didn’t communicate well with the staff or give them any input. He said Jang told the board of directors about some problems he had which de Guzman said he was never told about.

One morning in August 2001 Jang told de Guzman he had an attitude problem and had to pack up his things and leave. He was escorted from the building. This came as a complete surprise to de Guzman who had spent the morning solving problems for the ladies’ executive.

Jang testified the board had given him the job of finding out why the food and beverage department was not turning a profit. He concluded that managerial staff lacked the financial expertise to run their departments and he recommended the banquet co-ordinator position be eliminated. The board agreed. Jang had not spoken with Dick, de Guzman’s supervisor, and said he didn’t really know what de Guzman’s role was as banquet captain.

Jang did not have the authority to terminate de Guzman but the board did. (No minutes of the board meeting were entered into evidence.) Jang said he and de Guzman “got along” and he never had any problems with de Guzman’s performance.

The court found Jang should have done a better job of inquiring about de Guzman before he made his report to the board. Since Jang put in an application for club manager and controller shortly after the firing, the court also found the termination was, in part, designed to help Jang move up in the firm. His firing of de Guzman, the court said, was an effort to impress the board and never did improve profits as he said it would.

The court didn’t believe the board had even authorized the termination, because minutes of a board meeting were not given as evidence.

The court found that Jang terminated de Guzman in “a most high-handed and disrespectful manner, and humiliated this employee… (escorting) the claimant off the premises as if he was a common criminal.”

Two years after being let go, de Guzman had still not found comparable employment, partly because his job experience exceeded his education. The only job de Guzman had been able to get was not at the same level and paid $4,000 less than his previous salary.

The courts awarded five months’ severance (one month for each year of service) and tacked on one month’s salary because of the disrespectful treatment by Jang for a total of $19,000. de Guzman had already received $5,863 for eight weeks’ pay, leaving a balance of more than $13,000.

Because this was more than the jurisdiction allowed by small claims court, de Guzman was entitled to $10,000 plus interest calculated from July 31, 2001. He was also given filing fees of $156 and service fees of $60.

To read the full story, login below.

Not a subscriber?

Start your subscription today!