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Courts should ask two questions when determining whether the appropriate quantum of damages for breach of an implied term to provide reasonable notice includes bonus payments. First, courts should consider the employee’s common law rights and examine whether, but for the termination, the employee would have been entitled to the bonus or benefit as part of their compensation during the reasonable notice period. Second, if so, courts should determine whether the terms of the employment contract or bonus plan unambiguously take away or limit that common law right.

…this Court has been emphatic in recognizing that, in addition to whatever financial dimension work entails, a person’s employment is “an essential component of [their] sense of identity, self-worth and emotional well-being” (Reference re Public Service Employee Relations Act (Alta.), 1987 CanLII 88 (SCC), [1987] 1 S.C.R. 313, at p. 368). To this end, it is understandable that employees seek some recognition that they have been mistreated, reflecting that they feel it unfair, beyond any compensatory matter, that they were forced to quit in such circumstances.

Read about the ruling: https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/scc/doc/2020/2020scc26/2020scc26.html?resultIndex=1

| David McWhinnie