Sobey’s employee quit or forced out?

Seventeen-year employee's duties were decreased by centralization; didn't want to relocate
|Canadian Employment Law Today

This instalment of You Make the Call looks at an employee’s claim of constructive dismissal during restructuring.

Deborah Burns, 55, worked for Sobey’s, an operator of convenience and grocery stores, for 17 years. She started as a junior accounting clerk and worked her way up through supervisory and managerial positions. She worked in the company’s office in Middleton, N.S., except for 1991 to 1998 when she travelled from store to store as a retail advisor and counsellor and reported to a manager in Stellarton, N.S. By August 2001 she worked in the Middleton office’s computer area, doing pricing of products and troubleshooting.

In November 2003, Burns was told her pricing duties, which made up one-half of her work, would being taken away due to a centralization of the process. Sobey’s management told her there would be more work for her in Stellarton, but Burns didn’t want to relocate. On Nov. 26, Sobey’s told Burns her position was being eliminated and she would be offered a position in the computer room that would give her 20 hours per week and the remaining hours would be filled with “whatever.” Her salary and benefits would remain the same.