Ontario Court Sets High Side Severance Award

Written on behalf of Peter McSherry
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Reasonable Notice

The assessment of what is a fair period of notice to which an employee is entitled on termination remains a form of black magic, as opposed to a science. The general view of the high side award, given long term employment, a senior position and an older employee had been considered in the general range of 24 months for many years.

New High Water Mark

Recently the Ontario Superior Court considered a case in which the plaintiff was 62 years of age, with 37 years of employment and held the position of Senior Vice President with a large insurance company.[1] It was accepted by the Court that there were no comparable employment opportunities. The plaintiff had been well paid. He earned a base salary of $250,000 and in the year of termination had also been provided a hefty bonus of $380,000. At the time of termination, he was three years away from retirement at age 65.

The plaintiff asked the court to award 30 months’ compensation, which was likely good strategy, given the law at the time of the motion.

The judge did allow the plaintiff his requested compensation. However, the court also stated that it viewed the proper award as “at least” 36 months and had that sum been asked for, it would have been awarded.

It may be noted that while the plaintiff here had volunteered he had intended to retire at 65, Ontario has no mandatory retirement.

The Law is Dynamic, not Static

This case is illustrative of the fact that legal decisions change the law every day. At one time the expected maximum award was 12 months. As hard as this may be to believe, before that era, it was 6 months. It remains important to stay current and understand the every changing legal landscape.

Get Advice and Know Your Rights

It is clear that legal advice is required to understand your legal rights. Get advice. Know your rights. Contact the offices of Guelph employment lawyer Peter McSherry. We can guide you through the issues, help you understand your rights, and defend your position. Contact us online or by phone at 519-821-5465 to schedule a consultation




[1] Dawe v. Equitable Life Insurance Company, 2018 ONSC 3130