A recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision dealt with a number of issues arising from the dismissal without cause or notice of a senior vice-president of an investment company. One of the more difficult issues addressed at trial, and considered by the Court of Appeal, was the trigger date for the right of the employer to re-purchase the employee’s two percent interest in the company.
Long gone are the days when employees would receive pay cheques at the end of the week and possibly a Christmas bonus each year. Compensation for employees, particularly senior employees, has become increasingly complex as employers seek to incent specific behaviours among their executives. In addition, changing tax laws and the wild gyrations of the stock markets have made stock options more difficult to administer and less appealing to employees.
In assessing either termination packages, or damages flowing from wrongful dismissal, counsel is often faced with a myriad of non salaried compensation payable to employees. This compensation includes items such as stock options, stock grants, non monetary benefits such as health and dental insurance, and bonuses. Over the years, the provisions of bonus plans have become more sophisticated, and more complicated. Employers have attempted, with the assistance of counsel, to include provisions for various contingencies in these bonus plans in order to better protect the employer. However, the more complicated the plan, the more difficult it is to assess whether or not a dismissed employee is, in fact, entitled to compensation for bonuses which might have been earned during the period of reasonable notice.
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