Michael Ford
Employment & Labour

Ruling expected this fall in workers' class action

A decision is expected this fall in the class-action lawsuit launched by workers who claimed their former employer’s delay in notifying the Ministry of Labour of a plant’s closing denied them crucial support services, Toronto employment lawyer Stephen Moreau tells the Toronto Star.

Moreau, partner with Cavalluzzo Shilton McIntyre Cornish LLP, is representing the plaintiffs — 76 workers who were laid off from a multinational corporation that designs and builds sensors and electrical components.

The Ontario Superior Court judge reserved his decision last month in the case, which hinges on provincial legislation governing mass terminations. The company issued severance letters to its workers in mid-April 2014, with a termination date set for almost a year later. The termination date was later delayed by three months, says the Star.

The plaintiffs allege that the company breached the Employment Standards Act (ESA) by neglecting to immediately inform the ministry of its plan to close and relocate to Mexico. According to the plaintiffs’ factum, the ministry did not receive notice until May 2015, more than a year after the employees were first informed.

As the article notes, the notice period kick-starts services that employees need prior to their final days on the job.

Under the Employment Standards Act, when an employer gives notice, “that’s when the trigger is pulled, that’s when you notify the Ministry of Labour,” Moreau tells the Star.

Arguing that a “notice period” means informing employees and the ministry at the same time, the workers are seeking to have the notice period and severance package deemed null and void, the “clock reset” and new severance paid, according to their factum.

The company’s factum dismisses the workers’ claim as a “technical breach” that had “no detrimental effect on the plaintiffs and does not entitle them to fresh notice.” It argues the Act sets out minimum notice, which would be eight weeks in this case, says the article.

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