Accountant’s severance money adds up

Crawford v. Rice Financial Group Inc., 2003 CarswellMan 368, 2003 MBQB 216 (Man. Q.B.)

Kerry Crawford was a 45-year-old chartered accountant, working for Rice Financial Group Inc. in Winnipeg, managing pension funds. He worked at Rice for 20 months at a salary of $82,000 until he was terminated last January. The court determined reasonableness of notice based on: the character of employment, the length of service, the employee’s age and the availability of similar employment.

The court was satisfied Crawford had tried to find work to mitigate his loss. But it said he should have taken advantage of Rice’s offer to provide career counselling through Blue Cross, which “might have assisted in obtaining employment earlier.”

The court made a special note that “it seems somewhat incongruous that someone with a low-paying job should receive less notice and someone with a high-paying job should receive a greater amount of notice.

“The rates of pay clearly govern the compensation payable for the appropriate time period.”

The court decided that Crawford should receive five months’ notice, plus $1,000 which Crawford spent to pay for his license as a chartered accountant. The court also allowed Crawford $300 for general expenses in conducting his job search, and court costs. The court turned down his request for remuneration for car expenses.

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