On May 3, 2004, the British Columbia Supreme Court found the Hospital Employees’ Union (“HEU”) in contempt of an April 30, 2004 BC Labour Relations Board Order which had been filed as an order of the Supreme Court (the “Court Order”). In essence, the Court Order required striking HEU members to resume their duties and work schedules of employment as of April 30th. However, HEU members continued an illegal job action until May 3rd.
On June 11, 2004, the Court released its decision on the penalty to be imposed against the HEU for its defiance of the Court Order. The Court fined the HEU $150,000. It is the largest fine for contempt of court levied against a trade union in British Columbia history.
The fine must be paid by the HEU within 30 days. However, the Court suspended payment of the fine for 30 days to allow the HEU to purge its contempt by paying $25,000 to each of six hospital foundations. The six foundations chosen by the Court represent hospitals in various regions throughout the Province which were impacted by the illegal job action. The Court proposed this unique resolution in order that “some good will come of this unfortunate interlude in the provision of health care services in this province”.
Harris & Company were counsel for the Health Employers Association of British Columbia in this matter.