French chef wrongfully dismissed: Appeal court

New Brunswick café violated chef's 18-month work exchange contract

A New Brunswick café that persuaded a pastry chef from France to move to New Brunswick, violated the chef's employment contract, the New Brunswick Court of Appeal has found.

In June 2006, Eric Martins was recruited by the Café Croissant Soleil in Dieppe, N.B., with the promise of 18 months of work through an agreement with a France-Canada work exchange program.

The café fired Martins just four months after he started work for not meeting the owners' standards.

The owners told the court Martins' work performance was unsatisfactory but claimed he wasn't fired — he quit. A Court of Queen's Bench judge sided with the café owners in September 2008.

But the Court of Appeal pointed out Martins had a letter from his boss referring to his "dismissal," effective Oct. 10, 2006.

The court ruled the café owners breached Martin's 18-month employment contract, which was part of the recruitment deal the owners made with a French government agency, Les Espaces Emploit International, and the France-Canada Youth Exchange Agreement program to recruit Martins in June 2006

The café owners claimed they hadn't signed the contract, and thus weren't bound to it, but one of the requirements of the program is that employers have a valid written employment contract in place, said Sacha Morisset, Eric Martins' lawyer.

The court awarded Martins, who has returned to France, more than $14,000 as well as interest and court costs at trial and on appeal.

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