Before the decision of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Macaraeg v. E Care Contact Centers Ltd.1 in December 2006, it was common ground that an employee could not claim civilly a remedy or benefit conferred to him or her by employment standards legislation because such legislation was viewed as a “self-contained statute,” that exclusively governed the scheme or process for enforcing any contravention of its provisions. However, after the Supreme Court’s decision in Macaraeg, there were, for a brief period while Macaraeg was under appeal, two inconsistent lines of authority on the subject in British Columbia until the Court of Appeal affirmed the pre Macaraeg line of authority. The purpose of this article is to critically examine both the Supreme Court’s and the Court of Appeal’s decisions in Macaraeg. In the interest of affording the reader a better understanding of these decisions, by way of a preamble, this article will review instructive cases in British Columbia prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in Macaraeg.
Although this article assumes that the reader has the requisite knowledge and understanding of the complaint process under the Employment Standards Act2, a brief review will be undertaken of the provisions governing the time bruit for filing a complaint and the limit on the wages recoverable under the ESA, as these provisions are directly relevant to the discussion of the jurisdiction for the enforcement of the benefits conferred to employees under the ESA.
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