Employers should be careful when fabricating an allegation of cause for termination in order to avoid paying a dismissed employee with a severance package. A recent decision confirms that these allegations can expose employers to increased cost consequences.
The ordinary rule is that an unsuccessful party to a lawsuit pays around 60% of the successful litigant’s legal costs. However, in Tetra Consulting and Lewis Cassar v. Continental Bank of Canada and Continental Currency Exchange Canada Inc., 2015 ONSC 6546 – a case that we recently argued on behalf of the plaintiff employees – the court ordered Continental Bank of Canada (“CBC”) pay the plaintiffs not only a proper severance package, but nearly all of their legal costs.
The court found that CBC’s unfounded allegation of cause for terminating the plaintiffs made their case more difficult than it should have been, thereby increasing their legal costs. The principles of justice favoured providing the plaintiffs with nearly complete indemnification for having to litigate the unfounded allegation. They were awarded costs in the amount of $42,394.26.
Knowing which strategies to use, and not use, can be difficult in wrongful dismissal cases. Employers, and employees alike, are encouraged to consult with an employment lawyer to minimize their potential liability and avoid a humiliating loss at trial.
Author: Ozlem Yucel, Whitten & Lublin