Call Us Now

Blog

Constructive Dismissal: Does Not Always Require a Salary Reduction

Posted On: January, 21 2015

In this recent Ontario Superior Court decision, Justice MacDougall considered the case of a manager who was demoted in title and who had his direct reports removed from his supervision.  The issue was whether this constituted constructive dismissal, especially considering that his job remained unchanged in several important ways, and his pay was not affected.

Blight v. Nokia Products Ltd., [2012] O.J. No. 1455, 2012 ONSC 2093

Mr. Blight, the Plaintiff, was a 12 year employee of the Defendant company, Nokia Products Ltd.  He was a manager who had 4 direct reports.  Issues arose between Mr. Blight and his employer, particularly around Mr. Blight’s managerial style with his 4 reports.  There was a dispute between the Plaintiff and Nokia about dismissing a member of Mr. Blight’s work group – the Plaintiff wanted to dismiss the person, but the Defendant disagreed.  It appears that Nokia eventually made the decision that Mr. Blight lacked the interpersonal skills necessary to be an effective manager, but that his technical ability was nevertheless valuable.

Nokia proceeded to change Mr. Blight’s title and job description.  The employer permitted him to retain the term “manager” in his title, but changed his job description insofar as he would be solely tasked with technical work and would no longer have any direct reports.  His compensation remained unchanged, and in all other respects his employment continued as before.

Mr. Blight objected to this change in title, and when it became clear that the employer had no willingness to reverse its decision, he unilaterally left work and commenced an action claiming that he had been constructively dismissed.

After a 5-day trial, the Court decided in favour of Mr. Blight that he had been constructively dismissed:

[49] I find that Ballentyne, representing Nokia, had made the decision that Blight’s position with Nokia was going to be changed. I also find that the change in his position did constitute, in my view, a substantial unilateral change to the term of his employment contract. I agree that this change would mean a loss of prestige and status even if he was to maintain the title of “manager” and receive the same compensation.

This decision is noteworthy because it demonstrates that Ontario courts are willing to find constructive dismissal even in cases where there has been no change to an employee’s compensation.  On the facts of this case, the Plaintiff made it abundantly clear that being a manager in practice (rather than title) was important to him, and that he wanted to retain his staff.  When his position was changed over his objections, the Plaintiff was justified in feeling a loss of prestige and status, and this was enough to find that he had been constructively dismissed.

 

Contact Us

RECENT NEWS & EVENTS

5 STAR REVIEWS

  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto Wray James Reviewed by SB

    I just wanted to let you know how happy I am with the outcome and how very grateful I am for the guidance and support that you and your team provided.
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto Wray James Reviewed by Google user

    Patrick James is really a great lawyer who is smart and great to deal with. He's been our litigation counsel for over 5 years on several different matters. Patrick recently gave our company great strategic advice that resulted in a big commercial litigation win for our company. He's fierce, tenacious, and really cares about getting the best outcome for his clients.
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto Wray James Reviewed by Google user

    Patrick is a very good lawyer. He recently successfully defended a lawsuit against my company and has pursued several litigation claims for us in the past. All claims settled input favour. Mr. James is smart and quickly gives you great strategic advice. Patrick has been a real asset to our business.
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto Wray James Reviewed by Sandra L.

    Andrew Wray and Patrick James recently helped settle a difficult situation for me and my family. The results were exactly what we were hoping for. They are honest, strategic and will provide you with the best advice for you and your financial situation. I highly recommend them to everyone I know.
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto Wray James Reviewed by Mark C.

    Their team is highly focused and incredibly professional - from our experience it would be difficult not to believe that Pinto Wray James are one of Ontario's leading Firms in Labor and Employment law. The mindful client care and complete understanding of the case eased fears and the stress that comes with any legal dispute. Expect to find high level smartly crafted legal solutions at Pinto Wray James LLP - couldn't recommend more.
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto Wray James Reviewed by Sherry C.

    Patrick is knowledgeable, strategic, supportive, and patient. His guidance and advice helped me to maintain focus and to keep things in perspective. His experience and keen perception provides him with an edge that allows him to assess the situation, the people involved, and to offer a strategic resolution that works best for all involved. If you ever require legal advice and assistance, I highly recommend him and his team. They will be there 100% for you.
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto Wray James Reviewed by Christian V.

    Patrick is a fearless advocate for diverse clients. His strategic approach, and his empathy, are what set him apart as a litigator, and champion of the underdog.
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto Wray James Reviewed by A Google User

    I have no hesitation recommending Andrew Wray of Pinto Wray James LLP. He provided me with legal advice regarding an employment law issue and his council was practical and honest. Andrew's approach is very much one of blending legal excellence with good common sense. An excellent lawyer!
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto Wray James Reviewed by Larry S.

    Patrick listens to his clients and shows compassion, empathy and professionalism. He cares deeply that the individual that has been wrongfully terminated gets the best judgment available to him. I would not hesitate in recommending him to friends or family.
Submit