In a recent Ontario case, the court awarded an employee 26 months notice, finding that the employee had demonstrated the existence of exceptional circumstances.
It should be noted that in a 2019 Ontario Court of Appeal decision, the court had affirmed previous case law establishing that, while there is no “cap”, generally only exceptional circumstances support a base notice period in excess of 24 months.
Employee Terminated After 40 Years of Service
The employee began her employment with the employer in 1979 at the age of 18. She had not obtained a high school degree, having up to grade 11.
She was promoted over time and, as of 2004, was a chief operator. It was her intention to work for the employer until retirement.
She was terminated in December 2018 at the age of 58 without cause. Despite her efforts, she had since been unable to secure alternative employment.
Court Awards 26 Months Reasonable Notice
The court began by noting the 2019 Ontario Court of Appeal decision in which it had held that exceptional circumstances are required in order to support a notice period that exceeds 24 months.
The court concluded that when combining and applying all the factors to the employee’s unique situation, taken as a whole, exceptional circumstances existed in this case. The court set out these factors as follows:
- The employee had left high school to work for the employer and had spent her entire life dedicated to her job. The court observed: “She has known nothing else.”
- At the time of termination, the employee was 58 years old. The court opined: “She was in her twilight working years, closing in on the end of her career.”
- While the employee had worked and developed skills in the highly specialized field of fiber production operation, finding similar employment had not been easy, despite the employee’s diligent efforts to mitigate and attempt to gain computer skills. The court stated: “That said, I am not convinced that she will succeed in securing alternative employment, by no fault of her own.” The court further observed that her specialized job would make it very difficult to transfer her skills to a new employer.
Finally, the court concluded:
“Given [the employee]’s age, limited education and skills set, the termination was equivalent to a forced retirement. She must compete with people that are much younger than her and that have a different set of skills that may be required such as advanced computer knowledge. She is not well equipped to effectively compete in today’s market or secure comparable employment.”
As such, the court concluded that the employee presented a unique situation and had demonstrated the existence of exceptional circumstances. The court therefore awarded the employee 26 months notice, which amounted to $138,962.
If you have been terminated, you may be tempted to simply sign the severance package you have been provided with so that you can sever ties with your former employer and begin to move forward. While this may seem enticing, it is not the best course of action. Most employees do not realize how much they are entitled to upon termination and, without obtaining knowledgeable advice, often end up accepting significantly less than they should receive.
If you have been fired, one of the first phone calls you should make is to a wrongful dismissal lawyer. The highly experienced Mississauga employment lawyers at Bader Law have been advising employees on termination, severance packages, and wrongful dismissal for several years. We can review any termination letter or package you have been provided with, negotiate with your employer on your behalf, and file a wrongful dismissal claim where necessary. With our lawyers on your side, you can ensure you are getting the maximum amount that you are entitled to.
Contact a knowledgeable employment lawyer as soon as possible. At Bader Law, our lawyers will counsel you on your rights, advise you on your options, help you create a plan for moving forward, and secure fair compensation for the wrongful termination of your employment. Contact us online or at (289) 652-9092 to learn how we can help.