Availability of Other Employment Requires Evidence

The BC Court of Appeal in Munoz v Sierra Systems Group ( 2016 BCCA 140) commented on the burden of proof in the Bardal Factor of availability of other employment .

The Court commented as follows:

48) The employee bears the burden of proving that the notice period should be longer because of the lack of availability of suitable work. As Madam Justice Baker said in Desaulniers v. Wire Rope Industries Ltd., [1995] B.C.W.L.D. 1332 at para. 14 (S.C.):
“If the plaintiff asks the court to depart from the general range of notice periods recognized by other courts in respect of plaintiffs of similar age, seniority and position, she must establish an evidentiary basis for such a departure.”
49) In the present case the trial judge found that “neither party produced cogent evidence of similar employment at the time of termination”. Since it was Mr. Cuesta’s burden to prove a lack of availability of work, this failure falls to him.
50) Typically the burden is met by a plaintiff demonstrating his efforts to find work through job postings and applications made. In this case that evidence was not available because Mr. Cuesta chose to focus on his existing private IT company. There is no suggestion that he did not pursue other work because none was available. Mr. Cuesta deposed that this seemed to be the sensible thing to do:

At first blush it looks like the failure of the Plaintiff to lead this type of evidence would be fatal, however the Court recognized that the burden of evidence is satisfied where the Plaintiff simply shows that his diligent job search has not resulted in a job.

This case reminds us of how important it is for the Plaintiff to present a thorough and comprehensive job search record to not only show the Court that he reasonably mitigated his damages but to  further provide an evidentiary basis to find  that the lack of available jobs is a factor that should extend the notice period.

In my experience as a mediator of employment matters,  comprehensive evidence of this type of mitigation evidence is seen in perhaps 50% of the cases. This failure of the Plaintiff to properly document their job search costs the Plaintiff money at the mediation as it gives the Employer a bargaining chip to reduce the notice period.

941 thoughts on “Availability of Other Employment Requires Evidence”

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