TV station manager resists cancellation

Manager’s job function was transferred and he claimed constructive dismissal after given ‘make-work’ duties until retirement
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today

A television station constructively dismissed a long-time employee when it changed his role after he insisted on working up until his retirement date rather than be laid off, the British Columbia Supreme Court has ruled.

Stuart Johnson, 67, worked for 39 years for CH Vancouver Island, a Victoria station owned by the Global Television Network and its predecessor. He worked in various positions in on-air production throughout his career and was the manager of on-air operations from December 1998 until December 2004. In this position, he supervised a dozen unionized employees, administered an annual budget and oversaw on-air operations for Global.

In 1974, Johnson joined a retirement plan through an insurance provider. The plan stated his normal retirement date would be the first day of the month following his 65th birthday. It also said he could remain employed beyond that date, on a year-to-year basis, with the consent of his employer up to his 71st birthday. Johnson received an annual statement of pension benefits indicating his normal retirement date of August 2005 (he turned 65 in July 2005) and his pension payable at age 65. In 2002 a booklet about the Global retirement plan was circulated to employees, which reiterated the normal retirement date for employees was the first of the month following their 65th birthday and mentioned the policy for a postponed retirement date up to 69.