Swegon North America Inc. v. Benjamin Waksdale
(Ontario) (Civil) (By Leave)
Employment law - Contracts - Employment law — Duty to provide reasonable notice — Contracts — Contract of employment — Employee dismissed after eight months, without cause — Employer relying on termination without cause provision in employment contract and providing two weeks’ salary — Employee arguing other provision governing termination with cause void and unenforceable, rendering termination without cause provision invalid — Motion judge dismissing employee’s motion for summary judgment and dismissing action against employer — Court of Appel allowing employee’s appeal, setting aside order and remitting matter to motion judge for determination of quantum of damages — Whether illegality of termination with cause provision impacts enforceability of termination without cause provision, or whether clauses should be considered separately — Employment Standards Act, 2000, S.O. 2000, c. 41. — Termination and Severance of Employment, under Employment Standards Act, 2000, S.O. 2000, c. 41, O. Reg. 288/01.
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The applicant, Mr. Waksdale, worked for the respondent Swegon North America Inc., for eight months before being let go without cause. Swegon provided two weeks’ salary, relying on the terms of a “termination without cause” provision in the employment agreement. Mr. Waksdale sued Swegon for wrongful dismissal and failure to provide reasonable notice in the form of six months of salary. Mr. Waksdale argued that another provision in the employment agreement, governing situations of termination for cause, was invalid and thus rendered the entire agreement (or at least, all provisions dealing with termination issues) void and unenforceable. He filed a motion for summary judgment against Swegon, which in turn sought to dismiss his action.
The motion judge dismissed Mr. Waksdale’s motion for summary judgment, and dismissed his action against Swegon, concluding that the termination without cause provision was enforceable and separate from the unenforceable termination with cause provision; the employer had therefore acted within its rights and consistent with its obligations under the agreement. The Court of Appeal overturned this decision and remitted the matter back to the motion judge for determination of the quantum of damages, finding that both termination provisions were unenforceable.
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