"Downsizing and Sale of a Business Unit" is the title of a paper prepared by a lawyer at Clark Wilson LLP in Vancouver.
It provides a comprehensive overview of issues to consider when terminating/transferring employees as part of a corporate transaction and ends with a useful summary of "what the vendor wants" and "what the purchaser wants" in order to minimize their respective exposure to claims by employees.
The court in Koos v. A&A Customs Brokers, 2009 BCSC 563 stated that in the circumstances of this case, it could not find that a reasonable person would have regarded the actions of the plaintiff former employee as an unequivocal resignation or an abandonment of employment.
As such, the court concluded that the plaintiff had been wrongfully dismissed.
At the time of dismissal, the 40 year old plaintiff had 10 years of service, worked in a specialized position (customs compliance) and was earning approximately $50,000 per year. The court awarded her 10 months reasonable notice.
Apprentice employee awarded $100,000 in punitive damages because employer covered up real reasons for dismissal
The decision in Marchen v. Dams Ford Lincoln Sales Ltd. 2009 BCSC 400, is noteworthy for four reasons:
- it involved an Apprenticeship Agreement made pursuant to the BC Industry Training and Apprenticeship Act:
- the dismissed employee was awarded $25,000 in consequential damages because of his apprentice status;
- the dismissed employee was awarded $100,000 in punitive damages; and
- the dismissed employee was awarded special costs.
In November 2002, the plaintiff, a recent high school grad, entered into an apprenticeship agreement with the defendant car dealership (the "Employer") under the BC Industry Training and Apprenticeship Act. Pursuant to the terms of the Agreement and the provisions of the Act: read more »
Mr. Zaitsoff was dismissed without cause from his position as a Production Manager at a pulp mill in Castelgar. He was 46 years old and had worked at the mill for 19 years. He had four people reporting directly to him and 215 indirectly reporting. He earned $142,000 per year.
In relation to the fourth "Ansari" principle, the plaintiff pointed to the lack of available jobs in the pulp and paper industry, particularly in the current economic downturn.
In awarding the plaintiff 20 months, the court stated that while the lack of available employment opportunities resulting from a depressed economy is a factor to be taken into account, it “must not be given undue emphasis”.
Discounted Notice Period
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In Kalsi v. Greater Vancouver Associate Stores Ltd. 2009 BCSC 287, the BC Supreme Court awarded a fired employee $6,500 in damages for "false imprisonment" during the employer's theft investigation.
Mr. Kalsi had been employed as a mechanic by a Canadian Tire store for 16 years. He was 36 years old and off work on disability at the time the incident occurred.
Specifically, he was accused by the store's security officer of attending to the store on May 20, 2005 and stealing a light bulb for his vehicle.
After confronting Mr. Kalsi, the security officer told Mr. Kalsi to follow him up to the lunchroom. It was Mr. Kalsi's evidence that, once in the lunchroom: read more »
The plaintiff was 63 years old and had been employed by the defendant for 38 years as a bench jeweller/goldsmith. He worked full-time and earned $26.50/hour, or just over $58,000 annually. His employment was terminated as a result of the business being sold.
The court found that the plaintiff was entitled to a notice period of 18 months, but that it should be reduced by six months because he had failed to mitigate his damages.
On the mitigation issue, the totality of the plaintiff's evidence was that he had: (1) personally delivered his resume to eight possible employers who were chosen because he had some familiarity with them, and (2) spoken to individuals at one company regarding opportunities for jewelers.
The defendant, in contrast, produced two affidavits that suggested that there were similar employment opportunities available that the plaintiff had not pursued. read more »
A lawyer with Clark Wilson LLP in Vancouver has written a paper entitled, "Managing Flexibility in the Workplace While Avoiding Constructive Dismissals (2008)". She ends her paper with a list of "Helpful Hints" for employers when restructuring.
BC Appeal Court reviews law on notice period for short service employees and rights under stock option plans
In Saalfeld v. Absolute Software Corporation, 2009 BCCA 18, the BC Court of Appeal addressed:
- the notice period owed to a short service employee; and
- an employee's entitlment to stock options during the notice period.
The employee's employment was terminated without cause after approximately nine months of service. She had held a senior software sales position, was 35 years old and earned a base salary of $60,000 with target earnings of $100,000 inclusive of commissions.
The BC Court of Appeal upheld the trial judge's award of a five month notice period, finding that it was not unreasonable given that it took the employee nine months to secure new employment.
However, in a statement that will bring comfort to employers, Madam Justice Huddart also stated that: read more »