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Chris D. Drinovz is an experienced employment and labour lawyer and the head of the Employment & Labour Group at Kane Shannon Weiler LLP. He was born and raised in Surrey and has practiced law exclusively in the Fraser Valley since 2010. Chris’ expertise covers all facets of the workplace including wrongful dismissal, severance opinions, human rights, discrimination/harassment, employment standards, employment contracts and workplace policies, dismissal planning, employee investigations, pension & benefits, disability and other insurance claims, employment insurance and CPP disability, WorkSafeBC injury claims, discriminatory action, and health/safety fines and assessments, partnership and shareholder disputes, arbitration, collective agreement advice, unfair representation complaints, non-compete/solicit disputes, and injunctions. Chris also practices in other complex commercial litigation, regulatory, and criminal matters. You can read some of his client decisions below.
Chris acts as general employment counsel for many local small and mid-sized Fraser Valley businesses. He takes a practical and pragmatic approach to planning and/or dispute resolution tailored to the need of each client. He also represents wrongfully dismissed employees which experience includes being co-counsel in a class action lawsuit against a large national employer.
Chris has appeared in Provincial, Supreme Court, the BC Court of Appeal, and the Federal Court of Canada. His litigation experience includes mediations, arbitrations, injunctions, judicial reviews, trials, and appeals. He also regularly appears in provincial and federal administrative tribunals such as the Workers Compensation Appeal Tribunal, Social Security Tribunal, Human Rights Tribunal, and Employment Standards Tribunal.
A recipient of the Governor General’s Academic Medal, Chris studied Mathematics, English Literature, and Spanish at the University of British Columbia as an Undergraduate Scholar. In 2007, Chris graduated on the Dean’s Honour List with a Bachelor of Science, having also been recognized by the Golden Key International Honour Society for being in the top 15% of all students. Chris continued his education at UBC Law School where his honours included the Law Foundation Award. While attending UBC Law, Chris was active in the Law Students Legal Advice Program (LSLAP) and the Union Gospel Mission. Chris articled at a large Fraser Valley Firm where he practiced employment law, commercial litigation, and criminal law. He was named the third best lawyer in the criminal law category of the 2014 Georgia Strait Best of Vancouver Awards. He then practiced at a boutique employment and disability law firm in Langley before joining KSW in 2016. He is currently on the Executive of the Canadian Bar Association, Employment Law Subsection.
Chris has a passion for skiing, power-lifting and music. He is an avid jazz fan and a member of the Coastal Jazz & Blues Society. He also plays drums for “Lost & Loaded” a rock cover band recently invited to compete in the Battle of the Insurance Bands.
AREAS OF PRACTICE
- British Columbia, 2011
- University of British Columbia, Faculty of Law
- Juris Doctor – 2010
- Honours: Law Foundation Award
- University of British Columbia
- B.Sc., Bachelor of Science – 2007
- Honours: Undergraduate Scholar Program Award
- Honours: Dean’s Honour List
- Major: Mathematics
- Minors: English Literature, Spanish
HONOURS AND AWARDS
- Rated Top 3 Best Employment Lawyers in Langley by ThreeBestRated, under Best Business of 2020
- Rated Top 3 Best Employment Lawyers in Surrey by ThreeBestRated, under Best Business of 2020
- Rated Top 3 Best Employment Lawyers in Abbotsford by ThreeBestRated, under Best Business of 2020
- Rated Top 3 Best Employment Lawyers in Abbotsford by ThreeBestRated, under Best Business of 2019
- Georgia Strait
Best of Vancouver Awards, Best criminal lawyer in
PROFESSIONAL & COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
- Canadian Bar Association, Executive for Employment Law Section
- BC Chamber of Commerce, Policy Review Committee Member
- Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia
- Trusted Advisors Group for TEC Canada
- Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce
- Surrey Cares Foundation, Board of Directors
- Law Society of British Columbia
- Friendly Drifter Society, Board of Directors
- Coastal Jazz & Blues Society
PRO BONO ACTIVITIES
- Member of Access Pro Bono’s Lawyer Referral Service
- Law Students Legal Advice Program, Peter Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia
- Webinars available on request – email Chris for inquiries.
- Getting Back to Business – webinar co-hosted with Raymond James and Avisar – watch recording here – June , 2020
- Financial Recovery Post COVID – Webinar for Beauty Council Western Canada members-only – May, 2020
- Webinar for the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce – Navigating your Business in the Road to Recovery – May, 2020
- Webinar for New Car Dealers Association of BC and members – Questions About CEWS, CERB, Covid-19 and the Workplace Answered – May, 2020
- Let’s Talk: Questions about COVID-19, the Workplace & Your Business Webinar – April, 2020
- Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce Virtual Townhall – “Your Top 10 Questions Answered: Human Resources & COVID-19”, April 2020
- “Art of Hiring”: Surrey Civic Hotel, January 2020
- “Employment Standards Act Amendments”: Surrey Civic Hotel, November 2019
- “Risky Business: Modern-day Tactics to Protect Your Business, People & Tech”: The Dragon Lounge, September, 2019
- “Mental Distress & Punitive Damages”, Employment Law Continuing Legal Education Conference, Continuing Legal Education Society of BC, May 2019
- “The New Era of Employment Law” – BarTalk Magazine by Canadian Bar Association of BC – June 2020 – Read here
- “A Summary of Recent Employment Law Trends Developing in Ontario and How Those Trends Are Being Applied in BC” (co-author), Continuing Legal Education Society of BC, May 2019 – Read PDF here: CLEBC – Employment Law Conference 2019 PAPER 8.1
- White Paper: “Optimizing Your Organization’s Group Retirement Plan” (co-author), January 2016
- WorkSafeBC Compensation
- Occupational Health & Safety
- Human Rights
- Employment & Labour
- Employment Insurance & CPP
- Commercial, Insurance & Criminal
Judicial review – Workers Compensation Board accepted our client’s claim for a back injury sustained on a first day on the job with her new employer. In setting her long-term wage rate, WCB found her to be a ‘temporary’ worker. We argued for our client that her employment was permanent. WCAT dismissed our claim and affirmed the initial WCB decision. We petitioned the BC Supreme Court, and the Court found the WCAT decision was patently unreasonable as it failed to make findings about the words of our client’s oral employment contract. This judicial review presented an interesting intersection of employment law, workers compensation law, and administrative law. Read Chris’ blog post about this case here.
April 27, 2017 & May 21, 2019
Our client was a health care worker who injured her shoulder at work. The Board denied her compensation and claimed her injury was pre-existing. We retained a shoulder expert and successfully appealed to WCAT, resulting in the injury being accepted. The Board then tried to limit compensation for the accepted injury. We appealed to WCAT again and the client received fair compensation, including retroactive benefits of over $30,000.
December 20, 2018
Our client was a Search and Rescue Volunteer that developed PTSD due to his exposure to many traumatic events, which prevented him from working at his regular job. WorkSafeBC tried to set his wage rate at the statutory minimum of $10 per week because his injuries related to his volunteer work. We sought a review of this decision and the Review Division overturned the Board. As a result, our client now receives fair compensation.
December 6, 2018
We were granted leave to request a late review of a 2014 decision which provided our client’s total disability pension would terminate on his 70th birthday. The Review Division varied the Board’s decision and determined that benefits would be payable until age 75. The client received a $30,000 retroactive payment and three extra years of pension payments.
October 10, 2018
Our client suffered a rare form of eye injury at her manufacturing plant. WorkSafeBC denied that the injury arose out of and in the course of employment. After an oral hearing at WCAT, the decision was overturned and the client received compensation for the injury, including retroactive benefits of $27,000 and a permanent pension until age 65.
August 21, 2018
Our client was a delivery driver who injured himself in the course of work. He developed piriformis syndrome and chronic pain. WorkSafeBC suggested he retrain as a laundry worker and cut off benefits. We appealed to WCAT and the decision was overturned. Our client eventually received a 100% loss of earnings pension.
Chris’ client was a long-haul truck driver who suffered a serious knee injury. During the course of treatment, the client suffered a new tear in his knee which the Board refused to recognize. After our successful appeal to WCAT, the client received a retroactive payment of $107,000 and his entitlement to ongoing benefits and retraining was restored.
May 21, 2015 / July 27, 2017
Chris’ client suffered a serious forklift accident. WorkSafeBC accepted his ankle injury but denied the resulting back condition that arose from his altered gait and turned out to be the most seriously impairing. WCAT allowed the appeal and the client received fair compensation for all his injuries. After this, WorkSafeBC tried to force our client back to work in a position he was not suited for. We appealed again and WCAT allowed the appeal, finding that our client was entitled to a 100% loss of earnings pension.
August 2, 2016
Chris represented a professional engineer who suffered a serious fall resulting in compression fractures to his spine. His pension claim got lost in the system and never adjudicated. After we were retained, WorkSafeBC corrected the issue but decided to end his permanent disability pension at age 65, despite his intentions to work past that date. We appealed to WCAT and won; as a result, the pension will be paid until age 75, resulting in over $120,000 of extra compensation for the client.
WCAT Decision No. 2016-00724
March 10, 2016
Chris acted for the widow of a groundskeeper at a remote lodge in Maple Ridge. He had suffered a heart attack while at work and WorkSafeBC denied our client a survivor’s pension on the grounds that the injury did not occur in the course of the worker’s employment. We engaged a leading cardiologist to analyze the data and presented his report to WCAT on appeal. The Tribunal allowed the appeal and accepted our arguments that the combination of the strenuous nature of the employment and the remote location of the lodge (causing a delayed response time for emergency services) made the injury compensable. Our client received a retroactive pension award of $25,000 and an ongoing pension payable for the rest of her life.
October 29, 2015
Our client was crushed between a metal bin and guard rail when a loader ran into the bin. He suffered serious physical injuries which were recognized by the Board, however he was only granted a 5% pension for the serious psychological conditions he developed, including PTSD and major depressive disorder. In a successful appeal, WCAT increased the psychological pension award to 15%, resulting in retroactive compensation of over $150,000 to our client.
July 10, 2015
Chris’s client was seriously injured in a remote work location when a 300-pound metal grate struck him. The employer denied the incident had occurred and WorkSafeBC agreed. After an oral hearing, WCAT overturned the denial and accepted the worker’s version of events, allowing him to receive wage loss and health care benefits.
November 21, 2017
Chris represented the developer of a large construction project in Abbotsford that was fined almost $60,000 in two separate penalty orders for alleged safety contraventions on site. After an initial review, the Review Division doubled the second penalty, increasing the total fine to $90,000. We appealed to WCAT and it was determined the Review Division’s reasoning was flawed. As a result, the second penalty was cancelled altogether and the fine reduced to less than $30,000.
November 9, 2016
We acted for a landscape construction company that was fined just under $32,000 when two of its workers failed to wear a seatbelt while driving a tractor on a large construction project in Abbotsford. After an appeal to WCAT, the penalty was downgraded to a lesser category and cut in half.
Our client was injured in a helicopter crash at work. The employer then terminated her employment while she was on medical leave and WorkSafeBC benefits. Our client filed a complaint under the Human Rights Code and the employer applied to dismiss the complaint under s. 27(1)(c) of the Code. We resited the application to dismiss and it was denied as the employer was unsuccessful in showing that the complaint had no reasonable prospect of success. Importantly, the tribunal found that “determinations made by WorkSafeBC abour whether an employee can return to a pre-injury job are not based on a human rights analysis of whether an employer has fulfilled its duty to accommodate.”
Neiser v. Su, 2014 BCHRT 190
Chris acted for the landlord of a premises in which the tenant alleged discrimination on the basis of a medical disability. The landlord had evicted her following the discovery of a modified electrical panel to support a marijuana grow operation and the tenant’s refusal to allow for repairs to the unit. We applied to dismiss the complaint and the Tribunal granted the application, finding the complaint had no reasonable prospect of success and the allegations as merely speculative and conjectural.
Cook v. Coquitlam Towing & Storage, 2013 BCHRT 267
Chris’s client was a tow-truck driver who was injured at work. The employer terminated his employment after WorkSafeBC determined he was not fit to return to his pre-injury job. We filed a complaint with the Tribunal and the employer applied to dismiss the complaint, arguing that WorkSafeBC’s decision justified the termination. The Tribunal dismissed the employer’s application finding no evidence of an attempt to accommodate. The case was settled shortly afterwards.
Desrochers v. Teksmed Services, 2013 BCHRT 56
Our client was terminated from employment during a medical leave. The employer applied to dismiss her complaint to the Tribunal, partly because of a concurrent employment standards proceeding. The Tribunal dismissed the employer’s application and found the case had a reasonable prospect of success. It was settled shortly after the decision.
Roy v. Tailwind Management Systems and others, 2013 BCHRT 258
The employer brought an application to dismiss our client’s human rights claim after she was terminated from employment during a medical leave. The Tribunal dismissed the application and found the case should proceed. The case was subsequently resolved before the hearing.
The Court found that the Client, a paramedic, was constructively dismissed and awarded severance.
In a separate decision, the Court awarded $2,500 in costs based on the defendant’s failure to accept a reasonable pre-trial offer.
The Employment Standards Tribunal confirmed an award of just over $20,000 to Client
after finding she was terminated for making a complaint to the Director of Employment Standards about her employment conditions. This is listed as a Noteworthy decision on the Tribunal’s website, and it represents one of the largest awards ever made under s. 83 of the Employment Standards Act.
Tonn v. Sears Canada Inc., 2016 BCSC 1081
Chris was co-counsel for the plaintiff in a class action against a large national department store after the termination of approximately 100 British Columbia employees from the home services department.
Chris represented the Employer in defending a reconsideration application before the Labour Relations Board involving the description of a bargaining unit in the context of a union raid application. The union’s resonsideration application was denied.
Sargeant v. Canada (Attorney General), 2016 FC 893
Chris represented our client in a judicial review application in federal court after his security clearance license was rescinded by Transport Canada following the discovery of a dated arrest in Washington state. His employer terminated him due to the loss of his security clearance. The Court issued an important decision regarding the review of security clearance decisions and procedural fairness regarding the process.
S.S. v. Canada Employment Insurance Commission, 2019; Tribunal Number: GE-19-1950
September 20, 2019
Chris’ client was denied Employment Insurance benefits after the Commission determined that she had left her job voluntarily. We appealed to the Social Security Tribunal and successfully argued that our client was in fact terminated from employment and therefore she was entitled to EI benefits. She received a retroactive payment and ongoing support during her search for new employment.
G.R. v. Canada Employment Insurance Commission, 2016 SSTGDEI
Client applied for EI benefits and was denied. The main issue was whether the Appellant lost his employment by reason of his own conduct, specifically being terminated for absenteeism. Chris was able to successfully show that his client’s actions did not constitute misconduct.
W.N. v. Minister of Employment and Social Development; Tribunal Number: GP-14-2909
November 30, 2015
Chris’ client was denied a CPP-disability pension. We applied to the Social Security Tribunal and after an oral hearing, the SST allowed the appeal and found our client’s disability was severe and prolonged. Our client was awarded 19 months of retroactive CPP benefits and an ongoing pension up to age 65.
Pringle v. Pringle, 2020 BCSC 75
Chris was co-counsel for the defendant in a case where the plaintiff claimed that the defendant intentionally ran him over with her vehicle. After a six day trial, the Court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims for aggravated and punitive damages and found the plaintiff was in fact 50% responsible for the incident.
Gibson v Matthies, 2017 BCSC 839
Chris represented the defendant in a claim brought by the plaintiff in relation to a motorcycle accident. After a three-day trial on liability, the Court determined that the plaintiff was 75% responsible for the accident.
Chris achieved a successful result for a local Fraser Valley business owner after a three day trial in a matter involving the sale of a $2.7 million blueberry farm and breach of contract issues.
Royal Bank of Canada v. Seikhon Farms et al., 2014 BCSC No. B081815, Vancouver Registry
Chris was co-counsel in defending a large Abbotsford farming operation in an action brought by the Royal Bank for $800,000. We third-partied several other businesses involved in the transaction in question. One of the third parties was in bankruptcy and applied for an absolute discharge, which would have prevented our client from continuing the third party claim. We argued against the application and it was dismissed. The case was settled soon after this.
Sidhu v. Sever, 2014 BCPC No. 20971, Abbotsford Registry
Chris represented the claimant in a breach of contract action regarding a construction dispute. After a four day trial, our client was awarded judgment. The judgment was unique in that the court accepted our client’s argument for compensation based on contractual restitution under the principles of quantum meruit.
Chris obtained an award for damages for client in this case involving a breach of contract. The defendant also brought a counterclaim against his client. Chris engaged a geotechnical engineer expert and and was successful in securing the dismissal of the counterclaim.
Chris’ client was charged with possession of a controlled substance. We brought an application for exclusion of the evidence pursuant to Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Court found that the stop of the vehicle was illegal, our client was not provided a timely right to counsel, and the grounds for the arrest were inadequate. As such, the search was deemed to be unreasonable. The evidence was excluded and the client was acquitted of the charges.
A-1 Insulators v. Lalli Development Ltd., 2013 BCPC No. 24242, Richmond Registry
In this decision, Chris successfully defended an application by the defendant that the BC Provincial Court did not have jurisdiction to hear an action brought on a judgment. Accordingly the action was allowed to proceed.