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Worker’s attempt to enforce settlement agreement against former employer for wrongful dismissal rejected by Ontario court

by HR Law Canada

An Ontario court has rejected a motion by a worker to enforce a settlement agreement against his former employer.

The plaintiff, AL, whose employment was terminated in November 2021, had initiated a lawsuit in June 2022 seeking damages for wrongful dismissal, breach of contract, unpaid wages, aggravated damages, and punitive damages against his former employer Rolling in Green and its CEO.

The defendants submitted their defense in August, and following several proposals and counterproposals between the parties’ counsel, a settlement was allegedly reached on Nov. 16, 2022.

The plaintiff’s motion, based on Rule 49.09 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, aimed to enforce this purported settlement agreement and sought substantial indemnity costs. The motion hinged on an email sent by the defendants’ counsel on Nov. 15, 2022, which outlined the proposed terms of the settlement.

That email read:

In short, it’s the same deal or no deal. If it is no deal, which I hope is not the case, then you and I will be required to attend before Mr. Justice Bondy tomorrow morning to pitch our respective cases. The basic format is:

1.      Unpaid wages and termination pay in accordance with the contract and amounts unpaid to date;

2.      Payments commencing February 1 2022 and amortized over two (2) years;

3.      12% interest annually; Fully open;

4.      Judgment for the balance in the event payment missed for greater than 15 days.

5.      Full and final, immediate, release of (the CEO).

I have attached the draft minutes in default judgment for your consideration. We will of course have to quickly settle on the math, based on the above/attached. [Emphasis added]

However, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice found that the parties had not agreed on all essential terms of the contract.

The judge noted that the email stated the need to “quickly settle on the math,” suggesting that the parties had not yet reached a full agreement on the settlement terms. Additionally, the plaintiff’s materials created confusion about whether the enforcement sought was for the October or November proposals.

The draft Minutes of Settlement, a crucial document, was not adequately presented for court review.

The judge concluded that, based on the materials and arguments presented, there was no definitive agreement on all essential terms of the settlement.

Consequently, the motion to enforce the settlement agreement was dismissed.

For more information, see Laud v. Southwestern Legislative Safety Consulting, 2023 ONSC 5510 (CanLII)

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