Realtor claims she was forced out of brokerage after being made to work with colleague who assaulted her

Lawsuit of the Week - BIV

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Realtor Lisa Billett is suing Sutton West Coast Realty Ltd. and her former business partner Colin Hall, claiming she was constructively dismissed from the brokerage when she was forced to continue working with Hall after he was criminally charged for assaulting her after a work event in 2017.

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Billett filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on April 8, naming Hall and Sutton West Coast Realty Ltd. dba Sutton Group – West Coast Realty as defendants. Billett claims she worked at Sutton West Coast for more than 10 years. In April 2017, she claims, Hall assaulted her while driving home from an awards event.

“Despite being aware of the assault and the negative physical and psychological impacts of the assault on Billett, Sutton West Coast took no meaningful steps to create a safe, healthy and positive working environment for Billett after the assault,” the claim states. “In fact, Sutton West Coast did the exact opposite, intervening in Hall’s provincial court sentencing hearing to support Hall’s immediate return to the workplace. Rather than protect the victim of an assault and an escalating campaign of harassment, which Sutton West Coast committed to doing in its own internal policy manual, Sutton West Coast protected instead Billett’s assailant.”

Billett claims she was forced to leave her job under the circumstances, claiming she spurned Hall’s romantic advances beginning in January 2017.

“Following this rejection, Hall’s attitude towards Billett and the partnership changed,” the claim states. She claims Hall began acting “controlling and erratic,” allegedly confronting her in “fits of rage” and accessing her text messages while “interrogating” her about her personal relationships. After an April 2017 work awards event, Billett claims, Hall grabbed her arm and tried to wrestle her purse away from her after speeding dangerously across the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge. Hall was charged with assault in connection with the incident and given a six-month non-contact order and a $500 fine, but Sutton’s managing broker provided a supportive letter to Hall’s lawyer, which varied the order allowing Hall to work in the same office as Billett.

“Billett no longer felt comfortable or safe attending the Sutton office during the course of her work or attending Sutton events knowing that Hall may be present,” the claim states. She left her job at the brokerage in February 2018.

Billett seeks damages for breach of contract, wrongful dismissal, mental distress and $22,591 in outstanding commissions. The allegations have not been tested or proven in court, and neither Hall nor Sutton had filed a response by press time.