British Columbia Civil Resolution Tribunal Use for Employment Claims


Recent BC CRT Time Theft Decision

The recent employment time theft case of Besse v. Reach CPA Inc., 2023 BCCRT 27, decided by the British Columbia Civil Resolution Tribunal (“CRT”) has made headlines. Besse involved a claim by an employee (“Besse”) for wrongful dismissal. The employer (“Reach”) counterclaimed for “time theft,” claiming that Besse owed Reach money for wages paid to Besse for time she did not actually work.

Reach determined the time theft using a time-tracking system installed on Besse’s computer (TimeCamp). TimeCamp revealed 50.76 unaccounted hours Besse reported on her timesheets but did not appear to have spent on work-related activities. For example, if Besse had a streaming service like Disney Plus open, TimeCamp recorded its electronic pathway and how long the service was accessed. As this was not activity associated with client work, Reach would classify it as personal. Besse did not dispute the evidence or Reach’s classification of her activities.

The CRT accepted Reach’s evidence which demonstrated that Besse did not work on files she recorded time for in her timesheets, resulting in wages paid for work not actually performed. Besse was ordered to pay Reach a total of $2,756.89.

What is the CRT?

The CRT is Canada’s first online tribunal. It began accepting small claims up to $5,000 on June 1, 2017.  If a dispute is over $5,000, it can still be brought within the jurisdiction of the CRT by waiving claims above that amount. The CRT’s stated goal is to provide a timely, flexible, accessible, affordable and efficient method for dispute resolution, without the formalities and technical requirements of the court system.

CRT as venue for employment claims

The Besse case demonstrates how the CRT is becoming a venue for employment claims beyond the traditional forums of the BC Supreme and Provincial Court, the Employment Standards Branch, the Human Rights Tribunal, and the Workers’ Compensation Board. More importantly, Besse also shows how the CRT may be used for employers to pursue claims against their employees for serious misconduct.

From an employee point of view, there are limited causes of action an employee may advance against their employer at the CRT. For example, claims within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Employment Standards Branch cannot be heard at the CRT (see Jones v. Specialty Yacht Sales Ltd., 2020 BCCRT 1418, at para 11).  Similarly, claims under the BC Human Rights Code are within the jurisdiction of the BC Human Rights Tribunal and not the CRT.

Employee claims

Most claims commenced by employees at the CRT are for wrongful dismissal (up to $5,000) and determining the reasonable notice period, including rulings on issues such as constructive dismissal and just cause. For example, in Jones v. Specialty Yacht Sales Ltd., 2020 BCCRT 1418, the applicant claimed she was constructively dismissed for lack of training opportunities and sought $5,000 in damages for wrongful dismissal. Similarly, in Moura Lopes v. Quarterdeck Brewing Co. Ltd, 2020 BCCRT 360, the applicant claimed that his employer did not have just cause to dismiss him. The CRT decided in both the above cases that the employer was within their right to dismiss the employee. In contrast, in Toledo v. Coast Restaurants Ltd., 2019 BCCRT 1309, the employee successfully argued that her employer did not have just cause for dismissal and was awarded $2,103.96 (6 weeks’ notice) for reasonable notice damages based on two years of service as a part-time server.

Employer claims

In addition to the Besse case, employers have advanced other causes of action in the CRT. In N. Wallace & Company Ltd. v. de Sequera, 2022 BCCRT 985, the employer terminated the employee and paid the employee pay in lieu of notice for two weeks. However, the employee continued to use his benefits under his healthcare expenses account. The employer claimed that the employee was no longer entitled to these benefits after his termination date and claimed reimbursement for the expenses. The CRT decided that absent an express contractual provision restricting an employee’s benefits after termination without just cause, the employee was entitled to continue using his employment benefits during the notice period.

On the other hand, in Elto Developments Ltd. v. Dielschneider, 2020 BCCRT 1440, the employer successfully claimed $146.95 for reimbursement for lock replacement invoices. The employee in Elto was terminated and the CRT found that the employee either willfully refused to return the employer’s key card or lost it and made no effort to attempt to recover it. Therefore, the resulting rekeying charge was not considered a business cost, so the CRT found the employee was required to reimburse his former employer.


The above examples show that the CRT is in active use for adjudicating employment claims. If you have any questions about CRT use for employment claims, please contact a member of our Labour and Employment Group.

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