Abbotsford Downtown Business Association sued by former executive director

Abbotsford Downtown Business Association sued by former executive director

Tina Stewart alleges wrongful dismissal after being fired while on medical leave

The Abbotsford Downtown Business Association’s (ADBA) former executive director is suing the organization for wrongful dismissal after her employment was terminated earlier this year.

In a statement of claim filed in court earlier this month, Tina Stewart says she had gone on a medical leave of absence last September, but in March 2017 was placed on “working notice,” indicating her employment was about to end.

The lawsuit notes that an employer cannot place a worker who is on leave on working notice.

The claim states that Stewart was issued no final paycheque or record of employment in February or March, but that on March 16, she saw an article stating that she had left the ADBA. That article, which was published in the The News from information contained in an ADBA press release, announced two new hires: a new executive assistant and a marketing co-ordinator.

The press release thanked Stewart for her work.

Stewart’s statement of claim said that she had never received any formal or written warnings about her conduct, and that the ADBA didn’t respond to questions about her employment for two weeks following the press release.

In April, the claim says Stewart was told she “had been terminated as a result of reorganization, but also alleged insubordination and insolence.” She was issued a cheque for five weeks’ salary for dismissal without cause. The claim says an “unfiled record of employment” stated Stewart was terminated on Feb. 28 “due to a shortage of work or end of contract.” The claim says no record had yet been filed with Service Canada.

The claim states that in June, the ADBA sent Stewart a letter alleging “just cause on the basis of post-termination conduct and threatening potential legal action against the plaintiff.” It said a settlement letter had been sent at the same time.

The lawsuit alleges the ADBA’s conduct was “malicious, oppressive and high-handed,” that it had made “false and baseless accusations of just cause,” and that its threat of legal action was made to “extract a settlement.”

The suit says Stewart has “suffered foreseeable aggravated damages, including loss of career, loss of reputation, loss of self esteem, and mental distress.”

Stewart is seeking damages for wrongful dismissal and for costs incurred seeking a new job.

No allegations have yet been proven in court.

An ADBA representative said she couldn’t comment on the suit, but did say a lawyer would “vigorously defend” the organization.

A response statement in court has not yet been filed.