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Settlement Agreements

The enforceability of settlement agreements in wrongful dismissal cases

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

In the recent decision of Burnett v. Rexel Canada Electrical Inc. 2009 BCSC 314, the court discussed the law on settlement agreements in wrongful dismissal cases.

The underlying facts in the case were that the employer had, as a condition of the agreement, required that the plaintiff/former employee sign a statutory declaration that included the following statements:

  • I have not received an offer of employment; and
  • I do not have any current expectation of receiving an offer of employment.

Within hours of signing the declaration, however, the plaintiff recieved an unexpected offer of employment. The employer was suspicious of the timing and refused to pay out the settlment funds.  read more »

"Accounting for Pensions: Addressing Employees’ Pension Entitlements in Wrongful Dismissal Litigation & Settlement Negotiations"

Mitch Frazer and Tara Sastri from Torys LLP presented a paper on "Accounting for Pensions: Addressing Employees' Pension Entitlements in Wrongful Dismissal Litigation and Settlement Negotiations" at the Ontario Bar Association CLE - 8th Annual Current Issues in Employment Law (February 25, 2009).

The Precis of the paper is as follows:  read more »

Discoveries must occur before defendants get particulars of claim involving confidential info, breach of fiduciary duty

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

Mr. McKay resigned from the plaintiff VSM in September 2007 after 19 years of employment.

Before leaving VSM, he signed a release in which he acknowledged that he owed a fiduciary duty to VSM and that VSM would suffer irreparable harm if its confidential or unique information was disclosed without authorization.

Mr. McKay then commenced employment with VSM's competitor, Elekta.

VSM subsequently sued Mr. McKay and Elekta, alleging that they conspired to use confidential information to obtain an unfair competitive advantage and that Mr. McKay breached his fiduciary duty.

In response to the 54-paragraph Statement of Claim, the defendants filed a one paragraph Statement of Defence and then brought a motion seeking "particulars" of the claim. The Defendants' position was that they needed the particulars to file a responsive Defence and to delineate the issues at trial.

The court, agreeing with the plaintiff, ruled that the defendants' motion should be adjourned until the plaintiffs had conducted its Examinations for Discovery. If the defendants still wanted particulars at that time, they would be at liberty to re-apply.  read more »

"Employee termination: Validity of release & discharge agreements"

Jurisdiction: - Quebec

Law firm Stikeman Elliot has published an article entitled, "Employee termination: Validity of release & discharge agreements" for its March 2008 Employment Law Update.

The article reviews the decisions by the Commission des relations du travail du Québec in Bonadkar v. Groupe Marcelle Inc., 2007 QCCRT 0442 and by the Quebec Court of Appeal in Betanzos v. Premium Sound 'N' Picture Inc., 2007 QCCA 1629.

These decisions both focus on the "validity of release & discharge agreements, in the Quebc context, with employees relating to the termination of their employment and "confirm that it is possible for an employer to obtain a waiver by the employee of his right to sue his employer for a reasonable indemnity in lieu of notice after the termination of employment and that it is important to give the employee enough time to review the documents to be signed."

"Strategies for Dealing with an Early Retirement Package"

"Strategies for Dealing with an Early Retirement Package" (January 2008) is the title of an article by Jennifer Jackson, an Investment Advisor at CIBC Wood Gundy.

"Important Pension Considerations for Employment Law Practitioners"

Dan Gleadle, at TevlinGleadle in Vancouver, has written a paper entitled, "Important Pension Considerations for Employment Law Practitioners" (April 2003).

The paper was written for the 2003 Employment Law Conference CLE in British Columbia. Mr. Gleadle has appended sample pension benefits statements to the paper.

"Discipline and Discharge In Quebec At the Birth Of The New Millenium"

Jurisdiction: - Quebec

Quebec lawyer Theodore Goloff has written a comprehensive employment law paper entitled, "Discipline and Discharge In Quebec At the Birth Of The New Millenium" (undated).

The paper's Preface reads as follows:

Canada's constitution divides responsibility with respect labour relations and some areas of employment law between the federal and provincial parliaments. Unlike the U.S., the presumptive jurisdiction in labour and employment is provincial, not federal, and this whether the employer opera tes nationally or not. Because property and civil rights are assigned by the Canadian constitution to provincial jurisdiction, the law of contract, and per force the laws that govern the making, enforcement and termination of employment contracts are governed by the laws of the province in which the matter arises.  read more »