Paul Redekopp

Second civil lawsuit filed against Habitat for Humanity

Former ReStore general manager seeks compensation from Fraser Valley affiliate

A second person has filed a civil lawsuit against Habitat for Humanity, saying his job was wrongfully terminated while he was on stress leave, he has not been paid money he is owed, and some of his personal belongings went missing.

Paul Redekopp, 48, filed the notice of civil claim on June 18 in B.C. Supreme Court.

He served as general manager of the Habitat ReStore locations in Abbotsford and Chilliwack. The stores sold donated and used building materials and furniture.

They were closed May 12 after Habitat Canada announced that it had terminated the membership of the Upper Fraser Valley affiliate.

Redekopp’s lawsuit states that when he began the job in July 2016, Habitat agreed to pay him an annual salary of $45,000, which was to be increased to $55,000 on Jan. 1, 2017.

He was also to receive bankable overtime hours when he worked more than 40 hours a week and was to be reimbursed for “reasonable expenses,” Redekopp states.

He said his employment contract also indicated that he could only be terminated with “reasonable notice and/or pay in lieu of reasonable notice.”

But Redekopp says his salary was not increased to $55,000 on Jan. 1, 2017, but instead was bumped up to $51,000 in August of that year. He said he was told it would rise to $60,000 on Jan. 1, 2018, but that did not happen.

He said he also routinely worked 70 to 80 hours a week, but was not adequately paid for his overtime.

In early 2018, Redekopp began to experience severe chest pain and was diagnosed with job-related stress. He went on stress leave in March 2018 and was advised that he should remain off work for three to six months.

The lawsuit states that while Redekopp was on stress leave, Habitat removed his access to his work email account, removed his access codes to the ReStores, terminated his vacation pay without advance notice, failed to reimburse almost $2,500 in expenses, and closed down the ReStores without giving him advance notice.

As well, he says that when he went to obtain his personal belongings from the Abbotsford ReStore on June 1, a number of items were missing.

He says acting CEO David Morris was present at the time, and refused Redekopp’s request to search the premises for the missing items.

Redekopp says he was then evicted from the store and Morris called the police on him.

He said he has not been paid his statutory severance pay or vacation pay nor have his work-related expenses been reimbursed.

Redekopp says he was also falsely accused of tampering with the Abbotsford ReStore’s alarm system.

He says Habitat’s conduct has caused him to suffer “mental distress, psychological issues and reputational harm.”

“The defendants’ conduct … was harsh, vindictive, reprehensible and malicious, departing to a marked degree from ordinary standards of decent behaviour,” the lawsuit states.

Redekopp is seeking the payments that he says are owed to him, as well as damages for breach of contract, breach of the Duties of Good Faith and Honest Performance, and “negligent misrepresentation,” as well as aggravated, punitive and special damages.

The allegations have not yet been proved in court.

Doug Rempel, the former CEO of the local branch, previously filed a civil lawsuit for wrongful dismissal from the Upper Fraser Valley branch. That suit is still before the courts.

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