Bryce Herman, the longtime director of marketing for Chances Casino and the face behind myriad city events, is suing his former employer for $135,000.
Herman worked at Chances from 2002 until July 31 of this year, when the casino’s new owner — Gateway Casinos and Entertainment — terminated his employment.
In a notice of civil claim filed in the Kamloops registry of the B.C. Supreme Court, Herman claims Chances breached the employment agreement “by purporting to terminate” it early.
Herman also claims that Chances did not give “reasonable notice of severance in lieu of reasonable notice” of dismissal.
Herman also claims a Gateway management employee made “humiliating comments” and spread rumours about him in the community, including whispers about his impending firing.
In his notice of civil claim, Herman claims he entered into an employment agreement, and subsequent amendments to that agreement, with Pat and Gary Hart, owners of Chances until they sold to Gateway in January of this year.
Herman said the employment agreement and its amendments “were always entirely verbal” and saw his monthly pay as director of marketing rise from $3,000 a month in 2002 to $4,500 per month at the time of his termination this summer.
In 2014, Herman said, he was registered as an employee of Chances with the BC Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch, at which time he was “expressly restricted from being able to provide marketing and promotion services to competitors” of Chances.
In 2015, Herman said, his title was changed to director of marketing and public relations, he was given six weeks’ vacation and the term of his employment agreement was extended to Herman’s retirement age of 65 (which falls on Dec. 23, 2021.
While he also runs Advance Hospitality Consulting Services, Herman states in his notice of civil claim that his primary source of income was his salary from Chances.
Following the sale of the casino in January, Herman said, he continued to work for Chances and was paid until June.
However, Herman alleges in his notice of claim that, beginning almost immediately after the sale of Chances to Gateway, the casino’s new general manager made disparaging remarks to Herman and to others in the community.
Herman alleges that in the spring of this year, the general manager, Robert Case, “told members of the Kamloops community and the gaming community that Mr. Herman had been, or was about to be, terminated. Herman said that, at that time, he had not been informed he was about to be, or had been, terminated.
In his notice of claim, Herman alleges that he first learned of rumours of his pending termination at a May 3 fundraising event in Kamloops via a conversation with BC Lottery Corporation CEO Jim Lightbody.
The $135,000 in damages sought by Herman cover loss of salary, harm to his reputation and mental suffering that has been aggravated by rumours and humiliating comments about him.
In its response to Herman’s civil claim, Chances (doing business as Enterprise Entertainment Ltd.) denies all of Herman’s claims, maintaining that:
• Herman was under no obligation to provide his services to Chances on an exclusive basis and that he did provide consulting services or otherwise worked with other companies while at Chances.
• Herman was not registered as an employee of Chances with the BC Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch in 2014.
• Herman was not granted vacation or vacation pay because, as a contractor, Herman could take vacation at any time he determined to be appropriate.
• Chances never promised to extend Herman’s employment agreement to when he turned 65.
• At no time during the sale of Chances to Gateway did the Harts tell Gateway that Herman was an employee. Instead, Chances maintains, the Harts listed Herman as a contractor.
• Neither Case nor any other Gateway employee made disparaging comments about Herman to Herman or anybody else, nor did Case or any other Gateway employee made any public comment about Herman’s actual or anticipated termination prior to such termination.
In its response to Herman’s notice of civil claim, Chances claims Herman was informed on June 20 that his employment agreement would be terminated as of July 31.
The company also claimed that, in March, Herman declined an employment offer in March that would have paid Herman $54,000 annually for the position of guest services manager.
“He made that decision notwithstanding his knowledge that his existing arrangement with Enterprise was no longer required and would be terminated in the reasonably near future, given the resources available to the casino from Gateway,” the response to the civil claim states.
Maintaining that Herman was an independent contractor, the company said “it was an implied term of that contractual relationship that either party could terminate with one month’s notice.”