Employers who fail to incorporate a binding termination clause into their written employment agreements may face significant, and unexpected, liability for severance. This lesson was learned the hard way by Qualified Metal Fabricators ("QML") in a recent unpublished case out of Toronto.
QML employed Mr. Roy Singh as an assembler from May 2011 until his dismissal, due to an alleged shortage of work, in May 2015. Upon termination, QML paid Mr. Singh 4 weeks' termination pay in compliance with the Employment Standards Act, 2000, and allegedly the terms of his written employment agreement.
Jose Mourinho: the self-proclaimed 'Special One', former Chelsea boss and brand-new Manchester United manager. In addition to his many successes, Mr. Mourinho is no stranger to controversy. In the most recent Premier League season after seeing his Chelsea side lose nine of the first sixteen league games, he was unceremoniously dismissed.
Shortly before his own dismissal, Mourinho became one half of a very public dispute with Dr. Eva Carneiro. Dr. Carneiro had been employed with Chelsea since 2009, before leaving her position as first team doctor in September 2015 and alleging constructive dismissal. In addition, Dr. Carneiro's lawsuit included an individual claim against Mourinho for sex discrimination and harassment.
One of the most important clauses in any employment contract is the Termination Clause. This provision sets out the terms under which both parties may end the employment relationship at some unspecified future point in time.
As an employer, failing to include a provision of this kind can significantly increase your exposure to liability. Specifically, you lose the opportunity to limit the amount of severance an employee can seek upon termination. The absence of an enforceable termination provision results in the dismissed employee being entitled to 'reasonable notice' of termination.
In February 2015 we wrote about a case where a former employee was ordered to pay $56,116.11 as a result of his failure to give reasonable notice of resignation. While these so-called wrongful resignation cases are rare, they should give anyone contemplating a hasty exit from their workplace second thoughts.
However, as evidenced by a recent decision out of Sudbury, employers too should think twice prior to going to court on the basis of wrongful resignation.
One of the most complicated legal questions for employers is whether their operations are regulated by federal or provincial workplace rules. The answer to this question can have broad implications for employers, as the requirements of provincial workplace laws can differ considerably from their federal counterparts. The confusion over jurisdiction stems from Canada's division of powers between its varying levels of government. While the Constitution Act, 1867 (the "Constitution") does provide a helpful list of federal and provincial powers it is far from complete.
First Nations employers (this term is used here in a broad sense) in Canada have had a particularly tough time on the jurisdictional front. At first glance, the Constitution provides the federal government power over "Indians, and Lands reserved for the Indians." But at the same time, the Constitution is silent on which level of government is responsible for labour and employment issues. Had the founding fathers of Confederation been clearer on this point, it would have spared lawyers and employers a lot of future pain.
When the T-1000 came from the future to destroy John Connor, Arnie made sure he was stopped in his tracks. While employers who have to date relied upon prohibitive time and costs to deter ex-employee claims might not face the wrath that Skynet did, given the recent decision of Cloutier v. Q Residential LP Corp, 2015 ONSC 4431 (CanLII), a rethinking of such approaches may be required.
Since the Supreme Court's decision in Hryniak v. Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7 (CanLII), summary judgment has become a common tool in straightforward employment law matters. In Hryniak, the Court was explicit that summary judgment should be used whenever there "is no genuine issue requiring a trial."
As December arrives, our minds turn to the holidays: turkey, eggnog, and a long-lived tradition — the office christmas party.
The office christmas party is a time for colleagues to relax a little and celebrate the coming season, and an opportunity for management to show their staff appreciation for another year of hard work.