Employees fired for improper expense reports get big damage awards

Board of directors, new executive director of Saskatchewan facility believed business trip was for personal reasons, but previous director had approved it
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 04/03/2019

A Saskatchewan employer must pay 24 and 20 months’ notice, respectively, to two employees it fired for charging expenses for a business trip the employer believed was for personal reasons, because the trip was authorized by the employees' supervisor and they had no reason to believe it wasn’t legitimate.

Brian Swidrovich, 62, was the director of business development for the main arena facility in Saskatoon, Sask., that was initially called Saskatchewan Place when it was constructed in 1988. William Antonishyn, 69, was the director of ticketing and business projects for the facility, which was run by the Saskatchewan Place Association (SPA), a non-profit corporation governed by up to 10 board members including Saskatoon’s mayor, city council members, and several members of the public. The SPA was focussed on managing the business and affairs of the facility, while the day-to-day operation was handled by an executive director and a management team that included Swidrovich and Antonishyn.

Swidrovich’s role as director of business development involved the marketing of building and event sponsorships and long-term bookings of the corporate suites in the arena. He had to develop and maintain professional relationships with other businesses and sponsors with an eye to increasing revenue and profit for the facility and the SPA through event creation. Swidrovich began employment with the SPA in 1994 as an event co-ordinator, and his job evolved over the years into the director of business development. He also gained the title of director of an air show the facility was involved in and was managing director of two sponsored events held there.