Retraining Costs Allowed Even Through Plaintiff Did Not Get a New Job Within the Notice Period:

In Cordeau-Chatelain v Total E&P Canada Ltd ( 2021 ABQB 794 Justice Price has a situation where an employee who was awarded 18 months notice had reasonably retrained herself in a new career at a cost of about $18,000 . Because of this retraining, she obtained a job in her new career but well after the end of the 18 months notice period .

This what the Judge said :

[87] The other claimed expenses relate to Ms. Cordeau-Chatelain’s costs of retraining as an executive leadership coach. TEPCA argues that these expenses are not compensable because they arose out of her termination itself, rather than from the lack of notice. In other words, even if TEPCA had provided her with adequate notice, she would still have incurred the retraining expenses. The Defendant points to Ms. Cordeau-Chatelain’s statement that her termination “ended her career”, suggesting that any termination, even if not wrongful, would have required her to switch professions.

[88] Employers are generally entitled to terminate employment agreements, provided they give reasonable notice: Christianson at para 21. Damages for insufficient notice are awarded for breach of contract, but where sufficient notice is provided there is no breach and therefore no liability for damages: Deputat at para 8.

[89] With respect, TEPCA’s argument misses the point. Expenses that arise from the improper termination of a contract are compensable because there was a breach of contract. The question is not just about the nature of the expenses, but also the circumstances under which they were incurred.

[90] In this case I find that Ms. Cordeau-Chatelain had to incur retraining expenses because she was wrongfully terminated.

My Comments:
In my opinion the Judge got it wrong. The measure of damages in a contract breach case is to put the party in the same position that  they would have been had the contract not been breached ( Hadley v Baxendale ) .
If the plaintiff had been given 18 months working notice, then there would have been no breach of contract but  she still would have had to change careers and to do she still would have to incurred the education  expense.
The expense must be related to the breach and terminating someone without just cause itself is not a breach of contract.

If you want. copy of this case email me at