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Former chief medical examiner files employment lawsuit

A former chief medical examiner is suing Alberta Justice for more than $5 million for wrongful dismissal. The doctor served as chief medical officer from 2011 through the end of 2014. Alberta Justice claims that her contract was not renewed because of performance issues. However, the former examiner claims that she was wrongfully dismissed because she spoke out about political interference in how the examiner's office was managed.

In her complaint, she says a primary point of conflict was a proposed body transportation contract. She felt that the benefits of the contract did not justify the cost and that the contract was only being considered as a favour to the Alberta Funeral Services Association. Despite her concerns about the contract, she says she received considerable pressure to approve it from the territory's assistant deputy ministers. She sent the Premier a note detailing her objections, and he suggested that he was not willing to get involved in the issue. The day after he responded, she was told her employment contract would not be renewed.

The former medical examiner also alleges that she was told not to fire an employee even though the department's human resources department had recommended termination. She claims that the employee was related to a government official, which is why she was pressured to not go through with the termination.

An employer cannot terminate an employee for speaking out about the employer and working conditions. An attorney who handles wrongful termination lawsuits could help an employee argue that a termination was unlawful. Sometimes these cases result in settlements, and an attorney could attempt to negotiate on behalf of the employee.

Source: CBC News, "Dr. Anny Sauvageau, former chief medical examiner, sues Alberta Justice," Jennie Russell and Charles Rusnell, Feb. 6, 2015

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