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By Sheryl Smolkin
Hussain was fired in February 2011 because of corporate restructuring. With almost 36 years of service, he was Suzuki’s longest serving Canadian employee and he had no imminent plans to retire from his job as assistant warehouse supervisor.
In his recently-reported November 2011 decision, Superior Court Justice Roberts noted that unless there are exceptional circumstances, 24 months is usually the high end of the range of damages for wrongful dismissal. However, he ruled that the combination of factors in this case made a 26 months more appropriate.
The court heard that beginning three weeks after he was fired, Hussein applied for 27 jobs, but ended up with just one interview. Nine months after his dismissal he was still unemployed. Justice Roberts found that he made reasonable efforts to find another job and that at his age he had only a 1 percent chance of securing new employment in a similar or related industry.
The damages awarded Hussein were based on a yearly base salary of $48,790; employer-paid RRSP contributions of 3.5 per cent of base salary equal to $1,708 per year and an annual bonus of $2,248. He also received court costs of $19,287.37.
In a March 2012 article in The Lawyers Weekly, Hussein’s lawyer Daniel Lublin says this case confirms that the courts continue to have a great deal of sympathy for long-term employees who have been offered inadequate severance packages. “As Suzuki learned, offering only the statutory minimums or something very close to it is becoming a costly gamble that rarely pays off.”
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