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Case Brief - Rupert V. Greater Victoria School District No.61

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University of British Columbia
COMM 393
Patricia Mallia

Rupert V. Greater Victoria School District No.61 FACTS: - 1969 o Mr. Rupert started working in field of education - 1992: o He was appointed vice principal of Oak Bay High School in charge of School District’s International Student Program (ISP) - 1992 to 1998: o He worked long hours, establishing, marketing, and developing programs and administering ISP o ISP grew from 46 to 200 students and revenues from $400,000 to $2,300,000 - 1998: o March  Secretary suspicious about his actions conflicting with his obligations to the School District  She reported to administrative staff, inquiries were made, legal counsel was appointed and forensic auditor engaged o October  Mr. Rupert was suspended with pay o December  He was dismissed for cause after he was interviewed by forensic auditor, information was exchanged between counsel, and counsel made submission to a meeting with the School Board - Mr. Rupert sued School District for wrongful dismissal o Lost, and School District was awarded damages for breach of employment contract - School District sued Pacart Consulting for breach of contract, awarded costs - Mr. Rupert appealed decision of trial judge o Court of Appeal said Rupert’s arguments failed to justify errors made by the trial judge’s decision - Appeal was dismissed ISSUES: Rupert V. Greater Victoria School District No.61 1. Did Mr. Rupert breach his duty of fidelity to his employer? 2. Was Mr. Rupert dismissed with just cause? LEGAL PRINCIPLES: Duty of Fidelity - An employee must: o Act in good faith towards employer o Avoid conflicts of interest with employer o Maintain confidentiality of information Just Cause: - Examples of what constitute just cause: o Theft o Fraud and dishonesty o Assault or harassment of co-workers o Breach of duty o Serious wilful misconduct o Conflict of interest (especially if provable a loss to employer) o Serious breach of company rules or practices o Serious undermining of the corporate culture o Chronic absenteeism or tardiness o Unsatisfactory performance The Employer’s Right to Fire: - Meaning of just cause in Employment Standards Act: o An employer has the legal right to terminate an employee. The Act does not affect this right. It does require that an employer who wishes to terminate an employee must give the employee an appropriate amount of written working notice, compensation in lieu of such notice, or a combination of the two. What is appropriate is determined according to the employee’s length of service. Rupert V. Greater Victoria School District No.61 For this reason the Act refers to compensation paid in lieu of notice as “compensation for length of service.” o An employer does not have to give written notice or compensation for length of service to an employee who is dismissed for “just cause.” REASONING: Did Mr. Rupert breach his duty of fidelity to his employer? - Trial judge concluded o Mr. Rupert’s earnings exceeded nominal amounts, formed intention to operate the programs for personal benefits  Conflict of interest and breach duty of fidelity to employer o He misrepresented the nature of holiday programs to third parties, using ISP letterhead and using School District time in carrying out programs
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