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Transforce inc. c. Baillargeon, 2012 QCCA 1495 (CanLII)

Published under Employment law, Severance

The Facts:  A top level executive (Respondent) is hired by Transforce.  Complete Decision.  Just before being hired by Transforce, he is suspended by his previous employer Ratiopharm because of an anonymous email allegation of embezzlement.  The allegations turn out to be unfounded and Respondent’s suspension is lifted.  During the hiring process with Transforce, Respondent does not disclose the suspension or allegations.  Respondent leaves his employ with Ratiopharm to join Transforce.  Several months later, executives at Transforce receive a similar anonymous email concerning Respondent and the allegation of embezzlement.  Despite an inquiry by Transforce that revealed the falsity of the allegations, Transforce terminates Respondent for failing to disclose the allegations and suspension.  The judge at first instance awards Respondent termination pay representing 11 months of salary and does not consider the previous severance awarded to Respondent by Ratiopharm.

The Issues:  Was Respondent obligated to disclose the allegations to Transforce?  Did the judge at first instance err in awarding a severance of 11 months and in not considering the previous severance paid?

Decision: No disclosure was required.  The Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Civil Code guarantee everyone the right to integrity, dignity, honor and reputation.  A candidate for a position can not therefore be required to disclose slanderous allegations against him otherwise we would compel him to renounce his fundamental rights and to self- inflict what the law prohibits others from doing.  On the severance, the purpose of the severance is to enable the employee to have reasonable time to find an equivalent job without incurring economic loss.  After balancing the circumstances, the Court maintains the award of 11 months.  The judge at first instance was correct in not considering the previous severance because Appellant cannot evade its legal obligations by relying on another contract with a third party.  Transforce must pay compensation in lieu of reasonable notice and regardless of Respondent’s financial situation.