Judge increases mechanic’s severance when wheels come off Mazda dealership

Connolly v. Regency Import Automobiles Inc., 2003 CarswellBC 2129, 2003 CarswellBC 1345 (B.C. S.C.)

Brian Connolly had worked as a mechanic for 17 years at Regency Mazda, in Vancouver. He was terminated, at age 64, with eight weeks’ severance pay. Although he was nearing retirement age, he had planned to work another three years.

Regency Mazda was already in trouble when it lost its Mazda franchise on Jan. 15, 2002.

The firm’s manager of finance, John Giuliano, told the four mechanics that only two of them — one being Connolly — could stay after Mazda pulled the franchise. Regency would then become a used-car dealership, with a garage specializing in fixing Mazdas.

But the final blow came when Mazda Canada wrote each Regency customer to tell them the former franchise was no longer authorized to carry out Mazda warranty work or use Mazda parts.

Until that happened, Giuliano had been hoping to make a go of it. On Feb. 22 Connelly was told the repair shop was closing.

Giuliano said he offered to help Connelly find a job at another dealership and that Connelly refused. Connelly denied this, and the judge agreed it was unlikely such an offer had been made.

Giuliano based the eight-week severance offer on Connelly’s refusal to mitigate his losses by relocating.

Connelly had been actively looking for work since he was laid off.

Connelly’s average salary was $46,492. The court awarded him 11 months’ severance plus $1,566.93 which he was due for medical and dental expenses when his benefits were accidentally cut off. He was also given interest, as well as $1,496.40 in CPP payments and court costs.

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