Court Considers COVID Effect on Notice :


In Yee v Hudson’s Bay ( 2021 ONSC 387) Justice Dow was considering the proper notice period for a 62 year old Director of Product Development with 11.65 years service.

The plaintiff was laid off in August of 2019 ( pre COVID). When asked by the Plaintiff to award a longer period of notice because of the difficulty of getting a job in retail in the midst of a pandemic, the Court distinguished those cases where the employee was let go before COVID but his notice period was during COVID and those who were terminated during COVID. This is because ” Notice is to be determined by the circumstances existing at the time of termination and not by the amount of time that it takes the employee to find employment”

The Court awarded the Plaintiff 16 months notice.

At first blush this distinction seems illogical because. whether you were fired a day before the pandemic or the day after would have no effect on how long it may take you to get another job. However this decision is consistent with previous decisions where Courts have ignored post termination events in assessing the proper notice period. The policy reason behind this is the theory that the parties should be able to both assess the issue of notice at the time of termination. This is intended to promote certainty because if post termination events affected the notice period , then presumably you could never ascertain the correct notice period until it was over.

However there are certain exceptions to this rule because the notice period can be less than the reasonable  notice period in at least three cases:

  1. The employee fails to properly mitigate his or her damages.
  2. The employee succeeds in finding a new job before the end of the notice period.
  3. The employee dies within the notice period.

Q: Do you notice any themes to these exceptions ?

A: They all benefit the employer.