The Pendulum Swings: Wrongful Dismissal and Summary Judgment

Summary judgment can be an invaluable tool for individuals who lose their job. Unlike the traditional litigation route, trudging labouriously through mediation and discoveries to trial, it allows for expedient and cost-effective resolution of straightforward employment disputes.

Rule 20 of the Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure provides for summary judgement "where there is no genuine issue requiring a trial." Last year, following amendments to the rule, the Supreme Court in Hryniak v. Mauldin revisited its application and confirmed that it "must be granted whenever there is no genuine issue requiring a trial."

Building on this, the Ontario Court of Appeal has stated that:

A straight-forward claim for wrongful dismissal without cause...strikes me as the type of case usually amenable to a Rule 20 summary judgment motion. (Arnone v. Best Theratronics Ltd.)

Accordingly, it is now settled law that where an individual loses his/her job and the only issue is the appropriate amount of severance and whether they have made efforts to find re-employment, summary judgment should be automatic.

This is good news for individuals - they can avoid mediation, discoveries, and trial, with the associated costs, stress and wasted time, and have the matter resolved quickly and at a much lower cost.

Two recent cases illustrate the powerful benefits this tool provides to recently dismissed individuals:

Markoulakis v Snc-lavalin Inc.

Mr. Markoulakis was 65 years old and had been employed by SNC Lavalin for just over 40 years when he was dismissed from his position as a Senior Civil Engineer. He was dismissed with 34 weeks' pay (the minimum legal amount in Ontario for someone with his tenure). 

Mr. Markoulakis sought his entitlement to greater severance, and brought a summary judgement motion. He was successful in so doing and was awarded 27 months of pay in lieu of notice by the judge. To read more on this case, see our earlier article here.

Paquette v TeraGo Networks Inc.

Mr. Paquette was 49 years old and had worked for TeraGo for just over 14 years when he lost his job. At summary judgment he was awarded $163,267.90 - representing 17 months of salary and benefits.

This decision is important for two further reasons:

  1. It highlights how summary judgment can avoid a year or more of litigation, and quickly get severance for a dismissed individual. Mr. Paquette was dismissed on November 25, 2015. Within 6 months, his matter had been addressed through summary judgment.  
  2. It confirms that the court can grant judgment prior to the expiry of the reasonable notice period - as in this case, the court awarded 17 months of pay in lieu of reasonable, despite the fact that Mr. Paquette had only been out of work for 7 months at the time. In so doing the court opined:

TeraGo shall forthwith pay Mr. Paquette damages of $163,267.90 less any taxes or funds it is statutorily obliged to hold back or remit.

Mr. Paquette may utilize the funds as he sees fit, but he must account for any mitigatory earnings for the balance of the reasonable notice period.

If you lose your job, we are available to help you quickly enforce your rights and receive the severance to which you entitled. Please contact us at: 613-238-4430 or