Fired 55-year old man gets $346,000 after three years

concept of law and justice

A recent Ontario Superior Court case confirms once again that there is no specific “rule of thumb” that wrongfully dismissed employees should receive about one month of salary for each year of service.

An Ontario man working in the trucking, freight forwarding and logistics industry who was fired after three years on the job as Country Manager of CEVA Freight Canada Corp was awarded 14 months of pay and benefits minus four months of compensation he earned in a new job.

Bruce Rodgers was not looking for work when he was approached by Marcel Braithwaite, a CEVA employee in the summer of 2009 but he agreed to consider the open position. He attended seven interviews and was flown to Houston, Texas twice as part of the hiring process.

He turned down the first offer, but accepted a revised offer on September 6, 2009 at an annual salary of $276,000 with a $40,000 signing bonus paid within the first week of employment. As part of the deal, he was expected to purchase shares in the company worth CDN $102,330.85. On June 28, 2012 he was fired.

At the time of termination, CEVA paid him two weeks salary in lieu of notice totaling $11,115.44, severance pay in the amount of $5307.72 and outstanding vacation pay of $20,324.92.  Benefit coverage was terminated as of July 12, 2012.

The company did not give Rodgers a reference or any assistance finding a new job. In spite of the fact that were only six companies in Canada where he could work at a similar job, in May 2013 he got a position with Vandegrift Canada as Country Manager – Canada.  In this position the plaintiff receives a salary of $150,000 annually and a Christmas bonus of $12,500 paid in December each year.

Rodgers sued CEVA for wrongful dismissal in the Ontario Superior Court seeking 18 to 24 months of pay and additional compensation in lieu of benefits. The company argued he should receive considerably less in view of the short time they employed him. By the time the case came to trial, his shares in CEVA were worthless.

Mr. Justice G.E. Taylor considered the evidence and the case law. He noted that there was some inducement, but it was not the key factor influencing his decision that Rodgers was entitled to 14 months of pay and benefits minus the amount he earned at Vandegrift Canada before trial.

 

He based his ruling on:

  • His age
  • His position as Canadian Manager responsible for over 500 employees and $140 million annually.
  • The limited number of similar positions in Canada.
  • The requirement that he make a significant investment in the company that was now worthless.

 

Based on a spreadsheet provided by Rodger’s counsel he calculated the plaintiff’s monthly remuneration as follows:

Salary                                                           $23,000

Car allowance                                                 $1000

RRSP contribution                                           $2145

Benefits                                                          $2300

Cell phone                                                       $350

Golf membership                                              $426

Golf food and beverage                                      $100

Average annual bonus                                       $1268

Total monthly remuneration                           $30,589

 

Extended over 14 months the plaintiff would have been entitled to receive the sum of $428,246 in compensation from the defendant. This amount was reduced by $82,261, the amount of his earnings in his new job in the four months prior to the trial. Therefore he was awarded $345,985.

You can read the full decision here.

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