B.C. employer’s just-cause claim against plumber goes down the drain

Plumber’s previous side jobs had been allowed before being terminated for breach of conflict-of-interest policy
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 08/14/2019
B.C. employer’s just-cause claim against plumber goes down the drain
credit: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

A British Columbia plumber whose side jobs had been tacitly condoned by his employer was wrongfully dismissed when the employer fired him for additional side jobs without prior discipline, the B.C. Supreme Court has ruled.

Christopher Booton, 42, was hired as a plumber in October 2012 by Synergy Plumbing and Heating in Burnaby, B.C. He performed plumbing, heating and gas work for customers. At the time, Synergy was co-owned by two brothers — Joe and Dennis Guiotto. Joe bought his brother’s share in the business in 2016 after Dennis could no longer work due to health issues.

When Booton was first hired, he didn’t have a written employment agreement with Synergy. However, in May 2014, the company provided a written offer of employment that stated there would likely “be a vacancy in the current service manager position in the near future.” In the agreement, Synergy said it was offering Booton the position of interim service manager “subject to there being a vacancy in the current service manager position.”