Day 35 of the Toronto city workers strike, and no end in sight (in fact, one of the unions representing the workers has indicated that they will walk away from the bargaining table if they haven't reached a deal by midnight Sunday). The Windsor municipal strike ended recently after 101 days so we'll see if that has any impact in Toronto. And now we have the VIA engineers strike.
But these strikes don't simply impact those who are walking the lines (and their families) but also those employees that VIA has been forced to layoff because of the strike. And what of the public? In VIA's case, thousands of travelers have been stranded. In the case of Toronto municipal workers, well, the garbage piles up and we are oddly grateful for the cool weather and rain.
It would seem that the Ontario Court's recent ruling that refused to certify a class in the highly publicized CIBC overtime class proceedings will be appealed. That according to the excellent Financial Legal Post. Of course, no one is falling off their chair in surprise at this news given what's involved.
The National Post is running a series of articles on labour-management relations during the economic crisis. I was interviewed for the article Getting Real that has now been published.
Speaking of the economy, last Thursday I spoke at a Canadian Institute conference called "Workforce Restructuring: Practical Guidelines and Legal Strategies for Reducing Employer Liability in Difficult Times" about "Structuring the Severance Package: Innovative Solutions for Difficult Times".
plaintiff was hired by the defendant on November 28, 2005 for the position of
full-time receptionist and was promoted to the position of Executive Assistant in 2008 at an annual salary of $36,000. Her employment was terminated on November 28, 2008 at which time she was presented with a severance package that provided, in part as follows:
You will receive an additional five months pay in
lieu of notice of termination as per our obligations under the Employment
Standards Act of Ontario.
The Employment Standards Act would have provided the plaintiff with only 3 weeks pay, significantly less than 5 months pay. The plaintiff signed and accepted the terms of the offer. A few days later the plaintiff attended at the workplace to return some property of the employer at which time she was advised that there was a mistake in the offer.
The plaintiff was told that she "... would only be
receiving three weeks’ termination pay. The plaintiff was asked to sign a
release which she did not do."
The question was whether there was an enforceable agreement that the plaintiff could enforce?
The Court found that such a contract existed:
The letter represented the
employer providing consideration it owed to the employee. In the absence of
any demonstrated intention of the employer to deal separately with its common
law obligations, the submission that the letter was intended to deal only with
the statutory obligations of the employer cannot stand. The letter was to be
the completion of the contract. It represented not only the fulfillment of the
employer's statutory obligations, but also its effort to conclude its common
law responsibility to provide reasonable notice or pay in lieu of that notice. The
acceptance of the letter would represent the completion of all the employer's
So, the lesson is clear. Take time to review the terms of any termination letter or, for that matter, any offer. Any contract requires that three things be present (1) an offer, (2) acceptance and (3) consideration. Someone mentioned to me yesterday the master carpenter's motto "measure twice, cut once". That can be modified to fit the employment model as well.
That's what the Globe and Mail asks as the City's municipal workers strike closes in on 2 weeks. It's an interesting article focusing on the impact of the strike not on the public, the strikers or the city, but on the people and their families that are trying to maintain a level of service through the strike.
This is my personal weblog and the views expressed here are solely the author's and should not be attributed to my firm or its clients. The material and information provided on this website are for general information only and should not, in any way, be relied on as legal advice or opinion. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, currency, or adequacy of any information linked or referred to or contained on this weblog. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found on this website or blog, without first retaining counsel and obtaining appropriate professional advice from a lawyer duly licensed to practise law in the relevant province, state, territory or country. This blog is presented for informational purposes only. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and Michael Fitzgibbon. Please note that I am only able to provide legal advice to clients and will not provide free legal advice. Please don't send me any information or questions by email or otherwise because any information sent to me cannot be considered to be solicitor-client privileged or confidential.