Habitat for Humanity Upper Fraser Valley has responded to a wrongful dismissal lawsuit from former CEO Doug Rempel, saying they did not breach their employment agreement with him and owe him no money.
Rempel filed the lawsuit against Habitat UFV in April, alleging that the agency owes him the salary – at least $120,000 – that he says he had been promised prior to his termination in November 2017.
Rempel stated in his notice of civil claim that he entered into an agreement with Habitat in September 2012 to be employed as CEO.
He says he was asked to temporarily work at a “significantly reduced” salary and was promised it would later be increased to the range of $120,000 to $150,000 per year.
Rempel said that never occurred, and his dismissal was done without “just cause” and without “reasonable notice.”
He is suing for wrongful dismissal damages “based upon an annual salary of $120,000 to $150,000” as well as damages for breach of the salary agreement and expenses.
But Habitat’s response, filed in B.C. Supreme Court on July 16, states that Rempel was an independent contractor with the agency from 2012 to 2015 and did not enter into an employment contract with them until Nov. 27, 2015.
Habitat says in its response that the contract outlined that Rempel would be paid a base salary of $62,500 or a higher figure agreed upon at an “annual review of his compensation and performance by the board.”
If no formal review was conducted, it was agreed that the conditions would remain the same, but such a review would be required no more than 24 months after the signing of the contract, Habitat says in the court documents.
Rempel was dismissed from his job on Nov. 30, 2017. Habitat says no salary review was conducted during the two years he was employed.
Habitat says the employment agreement indicated that Rempel would be paid his monthly base salary during the month of his termination and for three consecutive months afterwards.
The agency states that the agreement indicated that if Rempel accepted any of the severance payments, he would then release Habitat from any liability arising out of his employment and termination.
“Subsequent to the termination, the defendant made payments in lieu of notice to the plaintiff … and the plaintiff has accepted such payments,” Habitat’s response states.
Habitat for Humanity UFV closed its doors in May after its membership was terminated by the national office, which cited financial issues as the main reason for the closure.
This resulted in the closure on May 12 of the ReStore locations in Chilliwack and Abbotsford, where a total of 17 people were employed.
The affiliate was based in Abbosford, but also served Chilliwack, Mission and Hope.