Plaintiff Wins $7,586 in Judgement and is Awarded $15,000 in Costs:

In Hefkey v Blanchfield Roofing ( 2020 ONSC 5094) Bawden J. awarded 7 months notice to a 6.5 year foreman. However because the Defendant had made a payment during litigation of almost $11,000 the extra payment awarded by the Court came to just under $7,500.

Regarding cost submissions the Judge ruled as follows:

1) Even though the recovery was within Small Claims limits , it was reasonable to start the case in the Superior Court because there was a real issue as to whether his seniority was 6 or 13 years.
2) The Defendant’s actions increased the costs, including spending a whole day on whether the action could be heard by way of summary judgement , which they lost. Even though both lawyers were based in Toronto, the defendant insisted that the cross examinations take place in North Bay, where the defendant lived.
3) The motion itself took three days spread out over a year.

Plaintiff Gets Bonus for Only Part of Notice Period:

In Wilste v Saestar Chemicals ( 2020 BCSC 658) Saunders J. determined that an employee fired without cause in July of 2018 was entitled to 16 months notice. About 1/3 of his total comp was pursuant to a bonus plan which had a clause which said that in order to be entitled to a bonus payment, the employee had to be employed as of March 31st, the end of the fiscal year.

The judge awarded him the bonus for the period ending March 31, 2019 as he would have been employed on that date had he been given 16 months of working notice. However in order to be entitled to receive a bonus for the next fiscal year end  ( March 31, 2020) , he would have had to receive a notice period of 20 months. thus he did not receive any bonus payment for the period from March 31, 2019 to the end of his notice period , which was November 2019.

My Comments:

This judge did exactly what we are supposed to do in these cases, which is put the employee in the same financial position as if he been given 16 months working notice, or to phrase it another way, as if the plaintiff quit his employment at the end of the notice period. No more and no less.

If you keep this simple concept in mind ( which I learnt in first year contracts at OHLS way back in the 70’s) the issue of how to calculate damages in a wrongful dismissal action becomes quite straight forward.

Sask CA Upholds $20K in Bad Faith Damages:

In Cooper v Porcupine Opportunities( 2020 SKCA 33) Caldwell J. upheld a bad faith damage award of a long term foreman.

“In this regard, the trial judge based his award of moral damages on the cumulative consequence of three incidents: (1) the false allegations of theft; (2) the false explanation that Mr. Cooper’s position was to be eliminated; and (3) the false allegations of inappropriate and threatening communications.”

The interesting aspect of this case is that the employer never alleged just cause, instead they told him that his job was being eliminated. The allegation of theft was only discussed in an in-camera meeting of the Board of Directors. However the Court found that because he was employed in a small town, the fact that 9 members of the community (the Bd of Directors) were made aware of these allegations justified the finding of bad faith as his reputation in the community was adversely affected. Moreover as the true reason that the Board voted to fire Cooper was because of the theft allegation, lying to him and telling him it was without cause also constituted bad faith.

My Comments: Presumably this means that when firing someone, employers must be brutally honest. If the real reason Frank is being fired is because no one can stand his bad body odour  but in order not to hurt his feelings you tell him that his job has become redundant, that can give rise to bad faith damages.
This reminds me of the old joke about what do you say when your spouse asks “Do these pants make me look fat?”

Judge Awards One Month Per Year of Service in Group Dismissal :

In Pitre et al v Lake Shore Holdings ( 2019 NBQB 316) Judge Doyle awarded notice of approximately 1 month per year of service to a varied group of nursing home employees whose ages ranged from 22 to over 50 and whose service ranged from 1.5 to 5 years. The judge also awarded damages based on their net pay not thier gross pay . The judge also found that their employment was terminated because the plaintiffs had filed complaints with the government department responsible for the regulation of the home. However he only awarded modest aggravated damages of $2,000 and $2,700.

My Comments:

1. The judge purported to apply the Bardal principles but completely ignored the age issue.

2. Awarding $2,000 for aggravated damages is so modest as to be irrelevant, especially when he found that the plaintiffs were fired because they filed a complaint with the appropriate govt authority. He also denied them punitive damages.

3. Damages are to be calculated on gross income, not net. These damages are now subject to be taxed a second time as this is taxable income.

4. The judge also denied the claim against the personal owner. As this case was undefended, it seems unlikely that the plaintiff will ever recover anything.