Former executive vice-president sues Quest University | Squamish Chief

Former executive vice-president sues Quest University

I-Chant Chiang claims developers on school's board of governors fired her "in bad faith"

A former senior official of Quest University is suing the school, claiming she was fired because she was associated with the school's former president, who opposed development.

I-Chant Andrea Chiang is alleging a breach of contract, among other things.

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"Dr. Chiang was terminated from her [executive vice-president] appointment in bad faith," reads a lawsuit filed by Chiang in the Vancouver courts on May 3.

"Her termination occurred because she was associated closely with the president, Dr. [Peter] Englert, who was known to oppose the development of certain Quest lands that Mr. Hutchison and Mr. Fujimagari, both then-governors of Quest, were pursuing development of."

The claim states that on May 8, 2017, two newly-appointed members of Quest's board of governors, Michael Hutchison and David Fujimagari, met with Chiang.

The pair, Chiang says, were "deeply involved in land development in the Squamish area including the Quest lands."

They "terminated her [executive vice-president] appointment and the employment without cause and relieved her of her duties," she says.

The incident happened shortly after Quest announced that Peter Englert would no longer be with the school in May 2017.

When The Chief contacted Hutchison for comment on this story, he declined, saying he could not talk about matters that are before the courts.

The notice of civil claim says Chiang is seeking damages for the alleged breach, loss of opportunity and mental distress, among other things.

"The dismissal of Dr. Chiang from her fixed-term employment by the defendant without pay in lieu of the fixed-term balance was a breach of her fixed-term contract, and has caused her to suffer damages and loss," reads the notice.

"In addition, the dismissal of Dr. Chiang caused her to lose her reappointment to the fourth term and was a wrongful dismissal of Dr. Chiang without just cause, and has caused her to suffer damages and loss."

Chiang's claim says that as the executive vice-president of Quest, her compensation included an $84,000 salary and an annual $40,000 stipend, among other things.

Prior to being the executive vice-president, she was working at Quest as a tutor — which is what the university calls its professors — making about $85,000 a year.

Following Chiang's termination from her position as executive vice-president, Quest expected her to return to her previously-held position of tutor, her claim says.

The school presented her with a draft which outlined the terms of her employment as a tutor, the claim says.

Chiang did not agree to the terms, and called it "deeply flawed."

The school later presented her with a second draft, and, according to her claim, it contained what she considered similar flaws. She did not agree to these terms either.

No other drafts were presented to her after, she says.

Chiang's claim says she "accepted the repudiation by Quest of her employment in August 2017."

Quest placed her on paid sabbatical on October 2017 and stopped paying her in January 2018.

The school, she says, did not pay her the balance for her remaining term.

The civil claim also states that on June 25, 2017, Marjorie Wonham, then the interim president of Quest, "wrongfully accused Dr. Chiang of willfully withholding Quest's administrative records and deleting thousands of records."

Chiang says Wonham wrongfully accused her of insubordination. Wonham had significant influence over whether Chiang would serve another term as a tutor, the claim says.

When contacted for comment, Quest spokesperson Jasmine Aimaq wrote: "Quest is very clear that it complied with all of its obligations to Dr. Chiang and will be defending this claim. However, as this is an active legal proceeding before the courts, we are not prepared to comment further at this time."

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