Fired worker awarded eight months’ notice after friend induced her to new job

Worker gave in to former colleague's repeated requests to join her at another dealership but was fired 13 months later

An Ontario car dealership was ordered to pay a fired employee eight months’ salary in lieu of notice after inducing her from another job by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Janet Deplanche, 61, worked as a business manager at several car dealerships for most of her working life. Her job involved arranging financing and selling extras for customers who bought cars and she was paid on commission.

Deplanche spent 10 years with Gemini Ford in Hamilton, where she had a good relationship with her employer and co-workers.

Deplanche befriended a colleague, Christine McGillvray, at one of her former employers, who had stayed in touch over the years. When McGillvray joined Leggat Pontiac Buick Ltd., she told Deplanche she should come work with her. Deplanche initially declined since she was happy at Gemini. However, after several attempts, McGillvray convinced Deplanche to come work for Leggat. Deplanche joined Leggat as a business manager on April 29, 2002.

After some time, Leggat was not satisfied with Deplanche’s profit per transaction and paperwork and she was given a warning letter on April 5, 2003, saying her performance would be reviewed in 30 days. However, it wasn’t mentioned to her again and Deplanche understood all business managers had been spoken to.

On May 31, 2004, she was terminated with two weeks’ pay. Deplanche had never been fired before and it affected her health and caused her stress. She also was faced with not having a car for the first time, as she has been supplied with one by all the dealerships she worked for. According to Deplanche, after her lawyer wrote to Leggat, McGillvray told her she would never work in the industry in the Hamilton area again. McGillvray claimed she merely told her she was “foolish.”

The court found Deplanche had been happy and secure in her job at Gemini Ford and McGillvray “spent a good deal of time trying to persuade” her to come to Leggat. This inducement warranted a longer notice period in dismissal.

“The entreaties by Ms. McGillvray went beyond the ordinary degree of persuasion and constitute enticement,” the court said.

The court found eight months’ notice was appropriate, though it also found Deplanche hadn’t made an effort to look for work immediately after being fired. It reduced the amount of damages by 15 per cent for failure to mitigate, bringing the total award to $34,275. See Deplanche v. Leggat Pontiac Buick Cadillac Ltd., 2008 CarswellOnt 2107 (Ont. S.C.J.).

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