Former employee sues Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Sandra Kuzyk made $89,000 a year as executive assistant to president.

The former executive assistant to the president of Kwantlen Polytechnic University says the institution acted in a “flagrant, outrageous and extreme” manner when it fired her from her $89,100-a-year job in March of this year, after more than 16 years of employment.

Sandra Kuzyk, 52, was also entitled to seven weeks paid vacation and had a benefits package that included extended medical and dental coverage, life insurance and a pension plan.

In her notice of civil claim for wrongful dismissal, filed with the B.C. Supreme Court registry in Vancouver on July 26, the lawyer for Kuzyk says her client was a victim of “abusive and violent” behavior.

The Kuzyk lawsuit says when she complained about her treatment and about similar abuse directed against another top university official, the university not only refused to investigate, but she was warned by one person against making a formal complaint.

Kuzyk worked as executive assistant for at least three presidents of the university during her employment.

Her lawsuit makes specific allegations against a number of people she says either committed the abuse or failed to stop it, including former interim university president John McKendry, university vice-president of finance and administration Harry Gray and university associate vice-president, academic, Jane Fee.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

Joanne Saunders, the university director of communications and marketing, issued a statement saying the institution “does not tolerate inappropriate action in the workplace.

“These are very serious allegations and we intend to respond to them fully,” the statement read.

“Because it is now a legal matter, we cannot discuss the details of the matter at this time.”

Kuzyk is seeking unspecified financial compensation, including aggravated or “Wallace” damages.

The Wallace principle is based on a precedent-setting Canadian wrongful dismissal case that found employers who show bad faith, such as causing “humiliation, embarrassment and damage to an employee’s self-esteem” during termination must pay added compensation.

The university has 21 days from the time it was served with the court papers to file a formal response to the lawsuit with the court registry.

No date for a court hearing has been set.

Kwantlen operates four campuses serving 20,000 students in Langley, Surrey, Cloverdale and Richmond.