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Legal Cases: Wrongful Dismissal, Independent Contractor Status, and Employment Contract

Case A: Wrongful Dismissal

You must take these steps to protect your own Work:

1. Do not share your assignment with anyone! If you give a classmate your work to look at even if you have not given them the permission to copy, you have participated in plagiarism and will be charged for it!

2. change your Schoology password so that it does not match your Hanson Student ID number. If you fail to do so and someone gets access to your Schoology account and copies your work, you will still earn a plagiarism/cheating charge for enabling it to happen.

3. Protect your digital devices: if you share a computer/tablet with others, make sure that you have a separate login just for yourself and/or store your work on an external memory device like a usb. If you do not do so and someone copies your work, you will still earn a plagiarism/cheating charge for enabling it to happen. 

Case A—Background:

Dr. Laura Wildcat, a 61-year old Marketing Professor from Cornell University, was hired by Bull Enterprises on October 1, 2017. She worked for the company as the Market; Director, and reported directly to the Chief Executive Officer, Bob Stanford. Laura received a bonus every year for her exceptional performance and won the Best Executive Award in the fall of 2020. However, Bull Enterprises experienced financial losses during the economic downturn caused by the global CCA/ID-19 pandemic.

On April 1, 2021, Bob called Laura in to his office. He told her that she was a good employee, and thanked her for her services, but told her that her contract was being terminated, effective immediately, because of a restructuring triggered by the company's financial losses in the last four quarters. Bob gave her a cheque covering her work until and including April 1st, and promised to send her another cheque by mail for the minimum number of weeks of notice required under the Employment Standards Act, but stated that he could not offer any further compensation, due to the company's recent financial losses.

Bob asked Laura to sign a printed agreement stating that Bull Enterprises would pay her for two extra weeks' salary, In exchange for her promise not to sue for any other damages for termination. He stated that two weeks was all that he owed her under the Employment Standards Act. Laura refused to sign the statement.

Bob angrily replied that she was lucky to have had any work at all during the pandemic, and urged her to sign the agreement, threatening to withhold her remaining pay if s did not.

Case B: Independent Contractor Status

Laura replied, "I don't think that this is sufficient compensation. I was planning to retire next year. I'd like to run this by my lawyer first." Bob suddenly stood up and ripped up the agreement, shouting, "I've changed my mind. I'm firing you right now for insubordination. You won't get another dollar from me." He called security, who escorted Laura from the building.

Laura came to see you, an employment lawyer. You start a lawsuit against Bull Enterprises for wrongful dismissal. In court, Bull's lawyer states that Laura's poor performanc caused the company to experience financial loss, and therefore she was terminated with Just cause, and is not entitled to any pay under the Employment Standards Act, or t common law. Consider your response to the Judge.


1. Discuss the law surrounding wrongful dismissal, considering Bob and the lawyers statements about the reason for Laura's termination: Did the company have any just cause to fire her? Is there any evidence in Laura's record that her poor performance caused the company's losses, or that she was insubordinate? 

2. According to the Employment Standards Act (ESA), how many weeks of notice must the company give Laura, if there is no just cause? 

3. Furthermore, discuss whether the company will be required to pay Laura any additional notice based on common law factors, beyond the amount required by the ESA.

4. Explain your answers to the questions above using the information from Working in BC (a guide to the ESA) and Employment Law Video Lecture Video Lectures pt. 1 & 2. 

Case B- Background:

Harpreet, the owner of a new studio called Pottery Palace, verbally offered Ravi a full-time contract. Harpreet planned to manage the business affairs of the studio, while employing two workers: Sam, who answered the telephone and sold pottery in the shop, and Ravi, who would work in the studio behind the shop, designing and making all of the pottery that would be sold in the shop. Ravi would use the kiln, clay, dyes, and other tools provided by Harpreet, working at the studio every day from 8:30 am-4:30 pm, according to the schedule Harpreet provided him.

Ravi worked for five weeks without receiving any pay. One day he asked Harpreet when she would pay him. She paused for a moment, and said, "Give me a moment." Ten minutes later, she gave Ravi a cheque with a typed pay stub showing the gross pay, but no deductions for Income Tax, Employment Insurance, or Canada Pension Plan contributions. He asked Harpreet about this, and she stated that this was because Ravi was a contractor, and not an employee. Ravi was surprised as he had been under the impression since hiring that he was an employee.

Case C: Employment Contract

Ravi decides to consult you, an employment lawyer, to see whether he Is an employee or an Independent contractor, and what rights he has under the law.


1.  According to the law, is Ravi an independent contractor or an employee? Explain by applying both the Four-Part Test and the Organization Test, as described In Employment Law Video Lecture Video Lecture pt. 1. 

2. Is Pottery Palace required to follow the Employment Standards Act (ESA) when paying Ravi? Explain whether Pottery Palace has broken any laws regarding paying Ravi on time.

3. Is Pottery Palace required by law to deduct Ravi's income Tax, Employment Insurance, and Canada Pension Plan contributions from his paycheque? Why or why not? 

4. Explain your answers to the questions above using the information from Working In BC (a guide to the ESA) and Employment Law Video Lecture Video Lectures pt. 1 8. 2. 

Case C—Background:

Maya worked full-time at a bookstore in Toronto for five years, earning $20.00/hour, with health and dental benefits. Upon reading an advertisement for a full-time position a Store Manager at Paige's Books, a popular chain with locations across the city of Burnaby, BC, Maya decided to apply. The job advertisement listed an annual salary of $60,000 plus medical and dental benefits that would begin after completing the first 6 months of employment.

Maya applied online, and after a successful Zoom interview, was hired for the job. The Human Resources Director, Geoff Beatty, told her that she would be managing a staff of 12 cashiers and making hiring and budget related decisions, starting June 1st. This Information was confirmed in a written agreement Geoff sent her by e-mail.

She gave notice to her Toronto employers on May 1st, 2021, and worked for two more weeks until May 15th. She sold her apartment and many of her belongings, hired a moving company to ship her larger furniture and belongings to Burnaby, and drove West across the Rocky Mountains In a rental van with her dog and the rest of her possessions. The process of moving took two weeks, during which she did not receive any pay, and paid for her expenses out of pocket.

Maya reported for work at her new Job on June 1st, 2021, ready to begin managing the staff and budget of the busy Metrotown branch, as described in her written contract. She met the owner, Paige Bookworm, who Immediately handed Maya a uniform and told her to put it on and get behind the cash register. Confused, Maya was told that the store was short staffed and needed an extra cashier for the day. Maya reluctantly put on the uniform, did her work as instructed, and at the end of her shift, changed into her regular clothes and came to see Paige In her office. She asked Paige when she would begin her managerial responsibilities.

Paige stated that during the probationary period, Maya would continue working as a cashier, and be paid at minimum wage. If her work was satisfactory, and she got along well with the staff, she might start the management role and salary at the end of the probationary period, but Paige would not give any promises. Maya asked Paige about the information in the Job advertisement, interview, and written contract. Paige stated. 'Well, I guess Geoff was a little unclear. That's not my fault. Look, my hands are tied: We're over budget for the next few months, and shorthanded, since two cashiers Just quit. We need you to work the till for now, and well see what happens after 6 months, okay? Maybe youll turn out to be management material, after all."

Maya threw her uniform on the table, and gave Paige her verbal resignation. Paige went Into the office and returned a few minutes later with a cheque for one full day's wages at 514.60/hour, minus 550.00 for the cost of Maya's uniform. Paige stated that because of health regulations related to COVID-19, the uniform could not be given to another employee, and that Maya would have to bear the cost herself.

Maya walked out the door and came straight to your office where you practice employment law. She asks you whether she can bring a lawsuit against Paige's because of the wrong information she was given, and the losses she has experienced as a result. Does she have a case? 


1. Has the employer committed a tort by wrongly describing the duties and salary to Maya? Please name and explain the meaning of any torts that apply to this case. 

2. Describe all of the financial losses Maya has suffered as a result of accepting this contract. Consider her lost income, benefits, and other expenses. Which of these costs might Paige's Books be liable for? 

3. Did Maya receive the current minimum wage (as of June 1, 20211 for her one day of work, and was her employer allowed to deduct the cost of Maya's uniform from her pay?

4. Explain your answers to the questions above using the information from Working in BC to guide to the ESA) and Employment Law video Lecture Video Lectures pt. 1 E. 2. 

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