2022 Employment Law Alberta Year in Review.

AuthorFairbrother, Joel


Reading Time: 3 minutes

This past year, the courts have left us with important decisions about employment contracts, constructive dismissal, severance, just cause and the oppression remedy.

This article is a short summary of some important employment law decisions in Alberta in 2022, separated roughly into subcategories of employment law. This article does not focus on cases from other jurisdictions, although many of those can have persuasive weight here. It also does not address developments in human rights and labour (union) law, because to do so would make the article more than twice as long as it already is!

Employment Contracts

In Lawton v Syndicated Services Inc, 2022 ABPC 3, the Alberta Provincial Court upheld an employment contract which provided 4 weeks of severance upon termination of employment of an employee. This case is a bit unusual. Based on other cases, I think the Court in this case could have found the clause violated the Employment Standards Code. The Court could have then struck out the clause to provide additional severance to the employee. Instead, the Court seemed to focus on the fact that this was a small "mom and pop" business that was losing money at the relevant time.

In Bryant v Parkland School Division, 2022 ABCA 220, the Alberta Court of Appeal found the following clause was not clear and unambiguous enough to limit the employee's entitlement to reasonable notice severance:

This contract may be terminated by the Employee by giving to the Board thirty (30) days or more prior written notice, and by the Board upon giving the Employee sixty (60) days or more written notice. This case is not particularly ground-breaking, but it does reaffirm established principles of contractual interpretation which tend to favor the employee.

Constructive Dismissal

In Kosteckyj v Paramount Resources Ltd, 2022 ABCA 230, the Alberta Court of Appeal found the employer breached the employment terms by unilaterally reducing the plaintiff's compensation. However, the Court decided it was not a constructive dismissal because the plaintiff--a professional employee--did not protest that reduction and resign or claim constructive dismissal more than 10 days after the reduction. It is well-established that a plaintiff must decide whether to pursue constructive dismissal within a "reasonable time" after an employer breach, but 10 days is shorter than what we usually see in the caselaw.

In Benke v...

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