Solid employee dismissed two weeks shy of end of probationary period

Dang v. North American Tea, Coffee & Herbs Trading Co. (2002), 19 C.C.E.L. (3d) 312 (B.C. Prov. Ct.)

Dang claimed damages for wrongful dismissal after his employment was terminated about two weeks before the expiration of six months of employment. Dang had graduated from university as a marine biologist and chemical engineer. He began his employment after he was contacted by a headhunting firm.

When he started his position he was given a document which was supposed to provide for the terms and conditions of his employment. The document stated, “Probation Period: Six Month Review.” Dang was never asked to sign the document. The company took the position he was a probationary employee for a period of six months and therefore his employment could be terminated without cause during that period.

Dang testified he understood his employment was to be long-term and he was not interested in short-term employment. Another witness testified the process with respect to the probationary period is to review the employee’s performance up to the six-month period to assess whether there are any issues or concerns.

In Dang’s case no performance review was conducted prior to the termination of his employment. The witness also said the commission paid to the headhunting firm which placed Dang was refundable if the employee was dismissed before the expiration of a six-month guarantee period.

The court held Dang was entitled to damages for wrongful dismissal for an amount equivalent to three months’ salary and benefits and found the employer had acted in bad faith. The employer had failed to conduct a six-month review despite his performance having been sufficient to earn a performance bonus after three months of employment and there being no evidence to suggest his performance had deteriorated in any way since.

The court also found the employer’s dismissal of the plaintiff without cause half a month before the expiration of the six-month period in which the headhunting firm’s commission was refundable was not coincidental and it further compounded the court’s finding of bad faith on the part of the employer.

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