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duty to mitigate

Failure to mitigate damages leads to a reduction in termination notice

The Supreme Court of British Columbia confirmed that following the termination of a senior employee who had over 20 years of service with the employer, the employee was entitled to a reasonable notice period of 17 months considering the Bardal factors. However, due to the employee’s extremely passive attitude towards finding new employment, the notice period was reduced to 14 months. In a nutshell, the employee just did not do enough to seek alternate employment.

 

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Wrongful dismissal law: Summary judgment motions – the way of the future

Since the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision earlier this year in Hryniak v. Mauldin 2014 SCC 7 (CanLII) more and more employees are bringing summary judgment motions to resolve their wrongful dismissal cases.

 

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The latest: When does a constructively dismissed employee have to stay with their employer?

In 2008, the Supreme Court of Canada issued Evans v Teamsters Local Union No. 31, [2008] 1 S.C.R. 661, one of the leading decisions on constructive dismissal in Canada. In that case, the Court held that a constructively dismissed employee must mitigate their damages by continuing to work with the dismissing employer if a reasonable person would accept this mitigation opportunity. In determining whether it is reasonable to mitigate by working for the dismissing employer, the Court stated that one should consider the following factors:

 

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Beware of the one month per year of service rule: Part 2

Last October, I wrote a post cautioning employers to beware of using the one month per year of service “rule of thumb”. A recent case from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has again affirmed that, depending on the circumstances, courts are willing to award short service employees significantly more than one month per year of service.

 

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Better the devil you know? employee’s obligation to accept an alternate position

Ever since the Supreme Court of Canada decision in 2008 in a case Evans v. Teamsters Local Union, the courts have recognized the obligation of an employee, in certain circumstances, to accept an offer of alternate employment from their employer following dismissal. This has put many employees in the awkward position of determining whether or not the offer of employment is one that must be accepted based on the Evans’ reasoning. The difficulty faced by many employees’ counsel is the degree of difference in the position being offered, and whether such difference justifies the employee rejecting the offer of employment.

 

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Preventing an employee from working during working notice can be constructive dismissal

In Allen v Ainsworth Lumber Co Ltd, 2013 BCCA 271, the British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld a lower court decision which held that an employer’s refusal to allow an employee to work during a purported “working notice” period constituted constructive dismissal.

 

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Picky, picky: How selective can a dismissed employee be in mitigation efforts?

When advising a wrongfully terminated employee as to her legal rights and obligations, I always point out that a wrongful dismissal claim is not like winning the lottery. While employers are obligated to provide reasonable notice of termination or payment in lieu of such notice, terminated employees must make “reasonable efforts” to find new employment. As is often the case, the devil is in the details. What must a dismissed employee do to meet her obligation to mitigate? What have courts determined to be reasonable steps? What conduct has been held to be unreasonable? From whose perspective will reasonableness be judged–the employers or the employees?

 

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Employer’s unreasonable increase in duties and poor response to employee concerns constitutes constructive dismissal

Often constructive dismissal cases involving a change in duties arise from an employer’s unilateral reduction in an employee’s duties. However, Damaso v PSI Peripheral Solutions Inc, is just the opposite. An employee alleged that an employer’s unilateral increase in his duties resulted in his constructive dismissal.

 

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What is the impact of mental health issues on the duty to mitigate

It has often been said that termination from employment is the capital punishment of employment law. While perhaps too extreme an analogy, there is no doubt that termination is an emotionally draining experience. The courts have grappled with the issue of plaintiffs in a wrongful dismissal claim who argue that the emotional upheaval of their dismissal resulted in an inability to look for replacement work for a period of time.

 

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There is more to a job than compensation

It has always been clear in Ontario law that employers cannot unilaterally alter the most important aspects of the employment contract – compensation, location of work, hours of work – without the employee’s consent or providing adequate advance notice of the change. If it does, it may lead to a claim of constructive dismissal. But what if the change imposed in the contract is not as important as some of these? How can the employee respond to a change in his position that he perceives to be a demotion, even if the title remains the same.

 

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Three of the most popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

Three of the most popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with significant changes to employment and labour law in Ontario, wrongfully dismissing an employee for refusing to sign an updated list of duties, and an employee’s duty to mitigate.

 

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Lessons from the mistakes of others: Reliance on an unenforceable termination clause is costly

A recent judgment of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal has once again affirmed the importance of carefully drafting termination clauses in employment contracts. In this case, the Court upheld a trial judgment that a termination clause which purported to limit the employee’s notice entitlement to 20 days was not enforceable. The Court of Appeal’s […]

 

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Three of the most popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with an employer’s miscalculation of the employee’s notice period; how an Alberta employer paid the price for failing to accommodate an employee’s disabilities; and Ontario’s new mandatory occupational health and safety training.

 

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Working notice: A refresher

Most of the time when employers look to terminate an employee they opt for pay in lieu of notice. Yet pay in lieu of notice can be costly, it can discourage mitigation and it may hurt productivity (if a suitable replacement has yet to be found). An often overlooked approach is providing working notice that satisfies both statutory and common law obligations.

 

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Most-viewed articles this week on HRinfodesk

The three most viewed articles on HRinfodesk this week deal with the duty to mitigate; how the employer’s failure to ask an employee about questionable expenses prior to termination means no just cause; and how an employer and manager were both liable for human rights violation against a pregnant employee.

 

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