In a recent decision1, the Superior Court of Quebec
held that the termination of a fixed term contract of employment
constitutes a breach of contract which may allow for an award of
damages for "troubles and inconveniences" suffered by the
employee, in addition to damages for early termination.
The Plaintiff had been terminated without cause 15 months before
the expiry of the term of his employment contract. The Court
concluded that the unilateral termination of the Plaintiff's
fixed term contract was illegal and ordered the Employer to pay the
Plaintiff an indemnity equivalent to the wages he should have
received until the end of the contract.
The main interest of this case is the Plaintiff's claim for
$50,000 as damages for "troubles and inconveniences",
which required the Court to consider whether such damages could be
compensated in the context of a fixed term contract of
In its analysis, the Court first establishes that, while the
termination of the Plaintiff was not based on serious grounds, it
was not made in an abusive or humiliating fashion. However, the
judge accepted that it had nonetheless caused severe stress and
anxiety to the Plaintiff, as is almost always the case when a
person is terminated.
The Court noted that according to a well-established
jurisprudence2, in the case of an indeterminate term
contract, its unilateral termination by the employer is not, in
itself, a civil fault, even if it prejudices the employee.
Consequently, except when the termination is made in an abusive
way, the compensation for troubles and inconveniences is not
available to the employee. This rationale is grounded in the
principle that either party to an indeterminate term contract of
employment may terminate it by giving notice of its termination to
the other party, as recognized under Section 2091 of the
Civil Code of Quebec.
However, a fixed term contract is binding on the parties until
its expiry and may only be unilaterally resiliated for a serious
reason. Thus, the employer who, without a serious reason,
resiliates the fixed term contract of an employee does not exercise
a right, but rather breaches one of its contractual duties. If the
evidence shows that this breach of contract caused troubles and
inconveniences, such as stress or anxiety, the terminated employee
could be compensated for these damages. In this matter, the Court
awarded the Plaintiff $5,000 for troubles and inconveniences.
Thus, according to this decision, a distinction must be made
between the unilateral resiliation of indeterminate and fixed term
contracts with regards to the award of damages for non-pecuniary
1 Bouasse v. Gemme canadienne PA inc.,
2016 QCCS 1263.
Dentons is the world's first polycentric global law firm. A
top 20 firm on the Acritas 2015 Global Elite Brand Index, the Firm
is committed to challenging the status quo in delivering consistent
and uncompromising quality and value in new and inventive ways.
Driven to provide clients a competitive edge, and connected to the
communities where its clients want to do business, Dentons knows
that understanding local cultures is crucial to successfully
completing a deal, resolving a dispute or solving a business
challenge. Now the world's largest law firm, Dentons'
global team builds agile, tailored solutions to meet the local,
national and global needs of private and public clients of any size
in more than 125 locations serving 50-plus countries.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances. Specific Questions relating to
this article should be addressed directly to the author.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Ten days following the election, join us for a discussion with Gary Doer, former Canadian Ambassador to the US, and Gordon Giffin, US Ambassador to Canada under Bill Clinton, to discuss how the new President and Congressional makeup will shape US-Canada relations for years to come.
On November 8, 2016, the United States will go to the polls to elect their 45th president. Whether it is Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, this decision will profoundly shape American policy for the next four to eight years. As our largest trading partner and neighbour to the south, the next US administration will influence a broad range of policy issues that directly impact Canada. These include the future of NAFTA and the TPP, the Arctic and geo-politics, the renewal of the Softwood Lumber Agreement, and the energy sector.
On Thursday, September 22, 2016, Dentons hosted a panel discussion about the management of liabilities and risks associated with environmental crises, including potential liabilities for directors and officers and provided insight into risk and liability techniques associated with environmental crisis management.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).