SMR lawyers Jessica Lithwick and Maya O. Ollek were counsel for Mr. Paul Chu in his successful claim for wrongful dismissal against the Defendant, China Southern Airlines (“China Southern”). Mr. Chu was a founding employee of China Southern’s first Canadian office, which was located in Vancouver and managed flights to and from Vancouver International Airport. Mr. Chu’s formal employment as China Southern’s Marketing and Business Development Manager started in around April 2011; however, Mr. Chu worked for China Southern on an informal basis starting in 2008.
After a change in management at the Vancouver office, Mr. Chu was demoted, moved around to different positions and ultimately fired, allegedly for cause.
As the Court found, beginning in March 2018, China Southern embarked on a campaign to manufacture cause for dismissal or pressure Mr. Chu to quit. That campaigned had many features, including demotions, a reduction in salary, unfair discipline and public embarrassment at work. He was finally dismissed for cause on February 1, 2019.
Mr. Chu was 68 years old when he was fired and had planned to work for another five years.
After Mr. Chu applied for summary trial, the Court found that Mr. Chu was wrongfully dismissed in reasons described as “scathing” by reporting published in CTV news.
The Court found that Mr. Chu was wrongfully dismissed in a bad faith manner. Mr. Chu was awarded:
- Wrongful dismissal damages of $58,053 in lost wages based on a notice period of 20-months.
- $50,000 in aggravated damages, based on CSA’s breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing in the manner of Mr. Chu’s dismissal; and
- $100,000 in punitive damages.
The Court found that CSA’s behaviour was highly blameworthy and reprehensible. It engaged in abusive conduct that was planned and deliberate, from a year prior to Mr. Chu’s termination, throughout the litigation and up to the date of summary trial. The Court stressed that CSA engaged in a wholesale attack on Mr. Chu’s conduct, his character, his years of service, his value as an employee, and his worth as a person.
Full reasons for judgment can be found here.