Injured employee intended to return to work after 16-month leave, court rules

Employer assumed request for letter stating there was no work for him while injured meant he wouldn't be coming back
|Canadian Employment Law Today

A British Columbia employer wrongfully dismissed an employee when it replaced him and didn’t have a position for him after he finished a medical leave, the B.C. Supreme Court has ruled.

Kashmir Sandhu worked for nearly 20 years for North Star Mills Ltd., a small lumber manufacturing mill in Delta, B.C. He started in 1986 delivering firewood and eventually became a forklift operator and occasional supervisor. He was a valued employee with high seniority.

On June 4, 2005, Sandhu was in a car accident in which he sustained soft tissue injuries. He told North Star he wouldn’t be able to work for some time and requested a record of employment so he could receive benefits from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). North Star supplied the record of employment and there was no further communication for a few months. In the fall of 2005, Sandhu called to update North Star on his condition but his employer made no efforts to contact him.