Home Featured Trucking company worker failed to mitigate damages by accepting job offer that owner helped arrange: Ontario court

Trucking company worker failed to mitigate damages by accepting job offer that owner helped arrange: Ontario court

by Todd Humber

“No good deed goes unpunished.” That’s how an Ontario judge described an attempt by the owner of a failed trucking company to help a long-serving worker land another job.

Justice Gorman of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice made the comments in a wrongful dismissal claim filed against Kinsdale Carriers Limited by SG, who had been with the company for more than 22 years.

She sought compensation for what she claimed was a lack of adequate notice regarding her termination.

SG, who held various roles including accounts receivable, dispatcher, and office clerk, was let go when the company shuttered on Dec. 31, 2020. Her departure came with a request for 22 months of reasonable notice, totaling $31,347.65, considering her annual salary of about $43,680 and benefits such as group insurance and paid vacation.

The court was tasked with resolving three main issues: whether SG had prior knowledge of Kinsdale’s impending closure; if she failed to mitigate her damages by declining a similar job offer; and what constituted a reasonable notice period under her circumstances.

Dire financial situation

Evidence presented showed that SG was made aware of the business’s dire financial situation and declining workforce.

“(She) admitted that the closure of the business was always in the back of her mind,” the Court said. “I find that (SG) was clearly aware and on constructive notice of the impending and real risk of the business’ closure.”

Job offer from another trucking company

In the days following her termination, efforts were made by Kinsdale’s owner to assist her in finding comparable employment, leading to an interview with Zehr Transport Limited.

However, SG declined a job offer from Zehr, believing it did not match her previous role’s scope or her salary expectations.

The ruling highlighted her resistance to embracing her role as a dispatcher, despite her significant experience and the comparable nature of the position offered by Zehr Transport.

The court found SG’s rejection of the job offer as a failure to mitigate her damages, pointing out that her pursuit of different employment and additional training was not the financial responsibility of her former employer.

“While (SG) wanted to ‘see what’s out there’ and pursue online courses, it should not fall on the defendant to fund her educational pursuits,” the Court said.

It ruled a comparable offer of employment was made by Zehr on Dec. 29, 2020, and SG chose to reject it “to her detriment.”

“Failure to mitigate has been proven. (SG) is not entitled to reasonable notice damages,” the Court said.

It awarded costs to the defendant and left it to them to come to an agreement on the amount.

For more information, see Gannon v. Kinsdale Carriers, 2024 ONSC 1060 (CanLII).

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