Employment law expert weighs in on Busch-Vishniac lawsuit

Watch above: Some in the legal community question the strength of a lawsuit filed by former University of Saskatchewan president Ilene Busch-Vishniac this week. Amber Rockliffe also spoke to students on campus who simply call it outrageous.

SASKATOON – Former University of Saskatchewan (U of S) president Ilene Busch-Vishniac has filed a lawsuit over her dismissal. According to a statement of claim filed Wednesday, she is seeking $8.5 million in damages.

Saskatoon lawyer Rich Gabruch has seen countless wrongful dismissal claims over the years, and said there were several issues in this one that stood out.

“I saw the defendants, and clearly adding the premier and minister adds some dramatic flare to the claim,” said Gabruch.

“We don’t know at this point what they said, what their involvement was.”

READ MORE: Former U of S president launches multi-million dollar lawsuit

The statement of claim also names individual members of the university’s board of governors.

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“The board of governors is statutorily constituted and there are some rules and liabilities around them, but to name them each individually is a little unique,” Gabruch explained.

When Busch-Vishniac’s presidency ended, the university said she accepted eighteen months’ salary as compensation, and a tenured faculty position, as agreed to in her employment contract.

“If [the contract] speaks to her waving her right to start a lawsuit for termination or otherwise, she’ll have a pretty big hurdle to overcome,” Gabruch said.

DefendUS petition organizer and U of S Law School graduate Dan LeBlanc said he thinks the lawsuit could uncover some important issues at the university.

“The calling in of the board of governors in its entirety and fellow upper administration aligns with what we’ve thought for a long time, which is it wasn’t just Ilene Busch-Vishniac acting out of course, but she was doing exactly what she was told to have done, and those problems, some of them, still exist at the university,” LeBlanc explained.

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The university says it will ‘vigorously defend’ its actions.