Why Senate staffer asked to be fired

Termination severance more lucrative than retirement
By Angela Scappatura
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/02/2009

A long-time Senate employee who asked to be fired from her job two years ago has been battling with government officials to uphold the termination.

Donna Routliffe had been a staff member in the Senate for more than 30 years before becoming eligible for her full pension in 2006. She started her career as a secretary to the late senator Louis J. Robichaud and, 10 years later, began working for Senator Colin Kenny.

While she wanted to receive her pension, Routliffe discovered the amount of severance pay she would receive depended on how she left her job. Termination emerged as the more lucrative option.

Despite describing her as an important member of his staff, Kenny fired Routliffe on March 30, 2007. However, Senate administration did not accept the termination and treated it as a retirement.

When asked why Routliffe was terminated, Kenny said he did not want to fire her but did so because “she asked to be (fired),” according to the Globe and Mail.

Routliffe was a valued employee and, during a 2004 address to the Senate, Kenny acknowledged her 30 years of service.

“(She) is a remarkable person who organized my office and ensured the smooth running of business,” he said at the time. “She played a key role both in my office (and for) most of the people working on this floor of the Victoria Building.”

Routliffe challenged the Senate decision and filed a grievance with the Public Service Labour Relations Board, calling for the firing to be reinstated. On April 14, two years after Routliffe filed the grievance, the board ruled it did not have jurisdiction in the matter and dismissed the case.

The amount of severance Routliffe would have received from the termination has not been released but it was “quite a bit, several thousand,” said Kenny in the Globe.

He defended his decision to fire Routliffe in order for her to collect the taxpayer-funded severance.

“This was a policy that I thought she was entitled to,” he said.

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