Canadian Lawyer

May 2021

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Page 8 of 43 7 loyal and dedicated employee for more than 17 years, had no prior disciplinary history and Shell did no suffer significant conse- quences from Underhill's actions. In Baker v. Weyerhaeuser Company Ltd., the employer alleged that the employee, with 14 years of service, was terminated for just cause due to safety violations and other misconduct. The court concluded that Baker's super- visor had looked for reasons to terminate Baker and relied on his personal bias against Baker and did not consider Baker's whole record of employment. A third case, Mack v. Universal Dental Laboratories Ltd., dealt with the allegation that Mack, who was also a shareholder and director, had failed to work with diligence and worked only a minimal and nominal amount of time at the office. The court also found that Universal had condoned the misconduct. Universal failed to issue any written warnings to Mack and did not follow its performance management process outlined in its employee policy manual. Absent an enforceable termination provision in an employment agreement, Blanchette says employers have an implied contractual obligation to provide indefinite- term employees with reasonable notice of termination unless there is just cause for termination of their employment. In some cases, this obligation can be as much as 24 months. If notice cannot be provided, the employer must pay compensa- tion equal to what the employee would have earned had the employee worked through the notice period. Calgary lawyer Jeff Kahane buys land instead of carbon credits to help practice go green Q&A A bit of green paradise Where: Sicamous, B.C., halfway between Calgary and Vancouver off the Trans-Canada Highway What: 40 acres with two streams, an old apple orchard and old- growth trees Why: Jeff Kahane wanted land to help offset the carbon dioxide produced by his office The audit says: Total carbon stored is 8,990 tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent), increasing if no changes are made, offsetting yearly office emissions of 177 tCO2e. Calgary lawyer Jeff Kahane purchased a 40-acre parcel of land in B.C., part of a goal to make his office carbon neutral, along with other changes. He even had an audit done to show it more than off- sets the carbon emissions from his practice. We talk to him about the experience. What made you decide to do this? It just felt like the right thing to do. I am not a "tree hugger" in the sense of wanting to go out and stand in front of bulldozers to protect the environment. I'm just a normal guy who wants everyone to play their part to the extent they can. Why buy land in B.C. as a way to go net-zero carbon? It started when I decided to replace seven furnaces in my building with more energy-efficient ones. Then it was a change to LED lights. And then it hit me. There's all this deforestation globally, so why don't I find some land that I can protect? You can pay for credits to do this, but there's just something beautiful about trees and nature that you can't get in the city. How did you end up with this piece of land? I had a real estate agent help me. I thought [about] looking in Alberta but realized prairie wouldn't meet the carbon-neutral goal. I also wanted land that was relatively far from a town or village but close enough that it faced the prospect of being developed one day. Tell us about this land you bought It has two streams on it, a forest, as well as an out-of-commission apple orchard that stopped producing decades. There are trees as tall as 60 feet and three feet wide. The man I purchased it from had bought the land in 1972 and really kept it in its natural state. Where is it located? It is located halfway between Calgary and Vancouver, off the Trans- Canada Highway near a town called Sicamous. You can hike to it, but the easiest way to get to it is by boat. And how does the land offset the carbon emissions of your office? I had a report done by a forester. It says the land stores sufficient carbon, now and in the future, to completely offset the office estimated emissions of 177 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. The total carbon stored is 8,990 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. What is your message to others? Not everyone can do what I did. But the message I want to send is, we can make a huge difference if we try to cut our carbon footprint even by five per cent or so. "The recent decisions illustrate that 'just cause' is a difficult argument to make, and courts tend to favour the employee if there is any discretion to be exercised." Sheena Owens, Stikeman Elliott LLP Jeff Kahane Lawyer CALGARY

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