Ex-workers claim MOL helpline misleading callers

Confusion over severance pay entitlement spawns legal action
By Sabrina Nanji
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 09/26/2013

Ontario’s labour ministry is the target of a recent lawsuit filed by two workers who claim they were misinformed about their severance package entitlement.

On Sept. 25, Toronto-based lawyer Lior Samfiru filed the lawsuit on behalf of his clients, Michael Mosey and Eileen Tremblay – two former Trillium Screw managers laid off after the manufacturing company shuttered its doors last year.

Both ex-workers allege they were told by the Ministry of Labour (MOL) that their severance entitlement was eight weeks’ salary – regardless of length of service, age or positions held.

That was misleading, Samfiru argued.

“The ministry tells people yes, you are entitled to eight weeks’ (pay), full stop. What they should have done is said, ‘Eight weeks is your minimum entitlement, you may or may not have additional entitlement and for the purpose of finding that out – you’ll have to obtain legal advice,’” he explained.

Mosey, 50, is seeking damages of about 24 months of pay, or $104,000, and 59-year-old Tremblay is seeking severance for about 16 months, or $52,173. Between the two, they have about 33 years of experience on the job.

“The Ministry of Labour created this helpline for the exact purpose of having people call them to find out about their legal rights in the workplace. They took on that responsibility,” Samfiru went on to say. “These can be complicated legal matters. No, I don’t believe that it’s on (employees) to say, ‘You’re wrong I’m going to do my own research on top of that.’ They’ve done their research by calling the Ministry of Labour. It’s reasonable for someone calling that number, we say, to rely on that advice.”

Though he said he could not comment on the case as it is currently before the courts, ministry spokesperson Matt Blajer confirmed the MOL intends to fight both cases.

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