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WRONGFUL DISMISSAL - Settlements

Monday, March 02, 2020 @ 9:14 AM  


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Appeal by the plaintiff from dismissal of his wrongful dismissal action. In August 2016, the employer informed the appellant that it was offering two cash incentive award opportunities totalling US$8,000 in light of an anticipated Dell merger. To be eligible for part one of the incentive of $2,000, the appellant had to continue to be employed on March 15, 2017. To receive the second part of the incentive in March 2017 required the appellant’s continued active employment. The appellant was terminated effective January 2017. He was also provided with a termination letter, an acknowledgement and a final release. The termination letter outlined the severance package of $2,000 being offered to the appellant. Five days after receiving the documents, the appellant accepted the severance offer and signed the acknowledgement for the termination letter, signed the final release and returned both documents to the respondent. Thereafter, the appellant commenced his action for wrongful dismissal damages. The trial judge found that the e-mail exchange between the appellant and his former employer following the presentation of the severance package was not a promise by the employer to pay an additional $6,000 and that the full and final release signed by the appellant was a full answer to his claim.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The letter of August 2016 clearly set out the eligibility requirements for the cash incentive awards which the appellant clearly did not meet. The e-mails that were exchanged from January 2017 to May 2017 did not demonstrate that the appellant was promised this additional money despite his termination, his acceptance of the severance package and his execution of the final release. At most, there was an agreement to investigate his inquiry. The trial judge did not make an overriding and palpable error in his interpretation of the acknowledgment and final release signed by the appellant. The acknowledgement and final release were clear that upon the respondent fulfilling its obligations under the terms of the severance offer, the appellant agreed not to make any further claims which included further claims for vacation pay, bonus and wrongful dismissal.

Zhang v. Dell Canada Inc., [2020] O.J. No. 15, Ontario Superior Court of Justice - Divisional Court, M.S. Kumaranayake J., January 3, 2020. Digest No. TLD-March22020003