Silence may not always be golden

Failure to respond to entreaty from employee asked to take on new role amounted to affirmation of dismissal, court says
By Daniel Lublin
|Canadian Employment Law Today

At the age of 66, Kathleen Fisher found herself in a pickle. Believing she was being forced to retire, she turned to her company president, Keith Andersen, looking for answers. Anderson may not have agreed, but he offered her no solution. As a B.C. appeal court recently concluded in finding Fisher was dismissed: his silence spoke volumes.

A staffer for 18 years, Fisher had been performing general office administration work for B.C. lumber manufacturer Lakeland Mills Ltd. Visitors to the office knew Fisher and often raised her retirement date in conversations. When these inquiries lost their entertainment value to Fisher, she spoke with Anderson, seeking an assurance her job wasn’t in jeopardy. Andersen’s response was swift: There was no concern and Fisher could hang on as long as she wanted.

Trained for new duties