Sunday, 15 November 2020

Dismissed “Vice President” Awarded Just Two Months Pay in Lieu of Notice – Despite Title, COVID-19 Pandemic

Is the title “Vice President” sufficient to move the needle in the calculation of reasonable notice?

In George v. Laurentian Bank Securities Inc., 2020 ONSC 5415 (CanLII), counsel for the dismissed employee urged the court to find that there is a presumption at common law that senior management or executives who are wrongfully dismissed are entitled to a minimum of 12 months’ notice irrespective of the length of service. He cited Mulrooney v Terra Nova Brokers Ltd., CanLII 3970 (NL CA), Felice v. Cardinal Health Canada Inc. 2014 ONSC 1190 (CanLII) and Lovely v. Prestige travel Ltd., 2013 ABQB 467 (CanLII), for this proposition.

For reasons given and summarized below, the Honourable Madam Justice Susan Vella of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice disagreed – awarding only two months’ pay in lieu of reasonable notice or $11,359.98 gross of taxation.

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Refusing to Apologize for Inappropriate Comments Not Cause for Dismissal

Is refusing to apologize to a co-worker, after a company’s finding of your having made inappropriate comments to that co-worker cause for termination? Does it matter if, at the time the direction to apologize was made, the company elected not to terminate your employment at all (let alone for cause?)

In Hucsko v. A.O. Smith Enterprises, 2020 ONSC 1346 (CanLII), the Honourable Mr. Justice G.E. Taylor of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice held that an employer was not justified in summarily ending the employment relationship because the employee refused to apologize (after seeking legal advice) and could not use the previous findings concerning inappropriate comments to later justify the termination.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Dismissed Construction Employee Entitled to Reasonable Notice Despite Employment Contract and ESA

Should courts void contractual termination provisions if such provisions have even the remote potential to, at some later point in time, violate the strictures of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 even if, at the time of actual termination, there is no actual violation?

In Rutledge v. Canaan Construction Inc., 2020 ONSC 4246 (CanLII), Justice Judy A. Fowler Byrne of the Ontario Superior Court held that they should.

Monday, 10 August 2020

The Equities of Equities

Sometimes it simply does not matter what a contract says; the court will not give effect to it.

Recently, this blog, and others like it, have devoted a considerable amount of attention to the subject of what it takes to draft a legally enforceable termination of employment provision. However, an even more frustrating decision, Battiston v. Microsoft Canada Inc., 2020 ONSC 4286 (CanLII) demonstrates that, even if what one writes in its employment contract is, on its face, legally enforceable, that does not mean that Ontario’s courts will be prepared to give effect to it when the time comes.

This is one reason why I am losing my hair.

Sunday, 9 August 2020

Employment Law Isn't Real

“Employment law isn’t real.”

Mention to my father that to which I have dedicated my intellectual focus and professional pursuits and he will be quick to inform you that employment law is not a real thing. He will ask you, rhetorically, who has ever heard of such a thing.

My father’s perspective on the subject of employment law reminds me of something I remember being told in law school: “There is no point taking environmental law.” Perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, it was my environmental law professor who told me and my classmates such a thing. The reason, my professor teased, that there was no point in taking environmental law was because “environmental law” was not a distinct subject. It was, others would argue, simply applied criminal law, or applied tort law. So long as one had an understanding of criminal law and private rights of remedy, why would one need an entire law course dedicated to the subject of the environment? “Because,” came the obvious answer, “it’s different.”

I did not take employment law in law school. Didn’t take labour either. In fact, the closest I came to learning about the subject in law school was one lunch hour talk about mandatory retirement, which I only attended because a friend had asked me to, and there was pizza.

Had I taken such a course however, and had the professor chosen to introduce the subject in the same provocative way that my environmental law professor had, I suspect that she would have said something similar to what I heard down the hallway in my environmental law class: ‘There is no point in taking employment law.’ Employment law is, by and large, applied contract law, with occasional criminal law and tort law, but mostly applied contract law.

“Employment law” therefore is not real. It is not unique or distinct. If one knows contract law, one can wing it at employment law.

If that thesis is true, then the Court of Appeal’s decision in, Waksdale v. Swegon North America Inc., 2020 ONCA 391 (CanLII) is wrong.