A Question of Law Death comes to employment law

By Jeffrey Miller
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/04/2003

As litigation by “restructured” employees has increased, their estates have followed, and not just on matters of survivorship benefits in insurance policies and pensions. In fact, even the obverse to this morbid little dilemma is cropping up: The business dies during the notice period. What happens to the notice damages?

Two recently released cases pose some of the complications from each perspective. From the employee side comes the Ontario case of McMaster Estate v. Imark Corp.

Janette McMaster had worked at Durkin Hayes Publishing for 22 years when Durkin Hayes “downsized” her. In a letter, Durkin Hayes offered McMaster a lump sum of 12 months’ pay in lieu of notice plus another six payments for each month McMaster was not re-employed after the 12-month notice period. The letter also asked her to sign monthly declarations that she was diligently seeking new work, and a release of all other claims. It put the deadline for acceptance at Feb. 13, 1998.