Fired long-term employee gets $65,000 bridge to unreduced pension

Unfair dismissal concept.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently awarded a 53 year-old employee fired after 31 years of service damages for wrongful dismissal plus $65,000 because he was less than 17 months away from an unreduced pension at the time of his termination. He also got $30,000 to replace the retiring allowance he lost.

Matthew Arnone was employed by Best Theatronics Limited, a manufacturer of nuclear medicine equipment, as a manger of inside sales and customer support. He earned $95,000 a year.

When Arnone was fired as part of a company restructuring, he was 16.8 months away from the date when he would have been entitled to receive a full, unreduced retirement pension. At the same time, he also would have been eligible for a retiring allowance equal to one week for each year of service to a maximum of 30 weeks.

The federally-regulated company paid him the statutory minimum allowed under the Canada Labour Code (CLC) of 14.4 weeks of salary continuance. He sued the company for wrongful dismissal, claiming 24 months of pay less the salary continuance amounts already received.

He also claimed the sum of $65,000 representing an actuarial calculation of the amount necessary to compensate him for the fact that he should be receiving his full pension plus $30,000 for the loss of the retirement allowance.

Justice Martin James ruled that because the documentary record was both extensive and reliable including transcripts of cross-examinations on several affidavits, there was sufficient evidence before the court to allow him to proceed by way of summary judgment.

Justice James found that Amone spent his whole career working in the field of Cobalt 60 industrial and medical equipment. He had about eight employees reporting to him and performed at least supervisory if not managerial functions. He accepted evidence that the plaintiff applied for over 800 jobs in a 16 month period and worked part-time at Wal-Mart and a grocery store was sufficient mitigation of damages so that resolving the issue of proper mitigation also did not require a trial.

But for the particular circumstances in this case the Judge wrote he would have awarded Amone 22 months’ pay in lieu of notice. Instead he gave him judgment for:

Damages for 16.8 months (period until he would have been entitled to unreduced retirement) minus the 14.4 weeks of salary continuance he received.

  1. $65,000 representing the present value of the loss of an unreduced pension.
  2. A retirement allowance equal to 30 weeks’ pay, and
  3. Costs of $52,280.09.

What this means for older employees

 Long-service, older employees may be entitled to significant damages for wrongful dismissal, particularly if their termination close to their normal retirement age means the value of their pension is reduced. If the evidence is clear, fired employee can have the case adjudicated by way of an expeditious application for summary judgment instead of a full trial. This can save all the parties considerable time and money.










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