There’s a hitch: Two trailer companies, common enterprise

Vanderpol v. Aspen Trailer Co. (2002), 100 B.C.L.R. (3d) 381 (B.C.S.C. - Chambers)

Vanderpol worked as a regional sales manager from January 1996 to June 1999 for Aspen Trailer Company Ltd. (“Aspen B.C.”) in British Columbia. He was then transferred to Georgia, where he was employed by Aspen Trailer Inc. (“Aspen Inc.”) until he was terminated in July 2000.

The plaintiff claimed damages against the defendants for breach of his employment contract. In this application, Aspen Inc. sought a declaration that the B.C. court did not have jurisdiction to hear the action. In order for Vanderpol to demonstrate a connection between Aspen Inc. and Aspen B.C. and therefore argue the B.C. court could assume jurisdiction over the matter, he had to establish that the defendant companies could be characterized as a common enterprise referred to as the “Aspen Trailer Group.”

In determining that the defendant companies constituted Vanderpol’s common employer, the court referred to a number of factors including the following: all of the companies were controlled by the same two people, one of which was also the president and CEO of each company; the designation “Aspen Trailer Group” was used for the purposes of advertising, correspondence and invoicing; the Aspen Trailer Group had a common Web site; the plaintiff’s revised remuneration package was with the Aspen Trailer Group; and the information provided to the plaintiff regarding his relocation was faxed on Aspen Trailer Group letterhead and made numerous references to “the company” without referring to one company in particular.

On this basis, the court concluded that the corporate interrelationship between the defendants as well as the relationship between the plaintiff and all of the companies, indicated that both companies were a common employer. Accordingly, the court found that a connection to B.C. had been established and therefore dismissed the employer’s application to decline jurisdiction.

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