If your employment has been terminated without cause, you are entitled to either a notice period or to pay in lieu of such notice. The amount of notice varies depending on a number of different factors including your age, character of employment, and length of service, among others. In a decision earlier this year, the British Columbia Supreme Court considered another factor: inducement by your employer. That case was Younesi v. Kaz Minerals Projects B.V.
Mr. Younesi was employed with Kaz Minerals Projects B.V. as an Engineering Manager for just over two months. Before joining Kaz Minerals, Mr. Younesi was working as a project manager for National Grid USA, a position he held for two years prior to joining Kaz Minerals. At National Grid, he earned up to $155,000 USD and enjoyed health care benefits, 401K contributions as well as paid vacations. It was no doubt a comfortable position to have.
Mr. Younesi gave all this up, however, when he was approached and actively recruited by Kaz Minerals. The Court acknowledged Mr. Younesi was “headhunted” by Kaz Minerals. In their offer letter, Kaz Minerals projected that Mr. Younesi would be employed or just under two years. The letter also provided Mr. Younesi with a comparison of the compensation offered by Kaz Minerals against his current employer, National Grid. Notably, Mr. Younesi was promised a substantial increase in base salary and vacation entitlements for the nearly two years he was expected to work.
It is no surprise that Mr. Younesi accepted the offer. Clearly, this comparison of compensation was intended to induce Mr. Younesi to leave his current position with National Grid and to join Kaz Minerals. It was convincing, and it worked. Mr. Younesi left a comfortable position to work for Kaz Minerals.
Understandably, he was very upset when he was fired only two months later.
The Role of Inducement in Assessing Notice Period
Where an employee has been induced to leave secure employment, this can be an important consideration in determining the amount of reasonable notice. Presumably, an employee would not leave a secure position if there had not been at least an implied agreement of job security with the new employer. This is not a new concept. In the 1984 decision Hooker v. Audio Magnetics Corp. of Canada Ltd., an employee who was induced away from a secure position was awarded 14 months’ notice despite only having worked one year with the new employer.
In Mr. Younesi’s case, the Court had no trouble concluding that he had been induced to leave his prior job. The compensation comparison was sufficient to draw this conclusion.
In referring to the offer, the Court said, “It was designed to be an irresistible offer having regard to Mr. Younesi’s personal circumstances.”
Inducement is a matter of degree. The inducement in one case may not be as attractive as the inducement in another. In this case, the inducement was fairly strong and Mr. Younesi was quick to bite.
The Court, in considering the inducement, concluded that it was reasonable to increase the notice period owed to Mr. Younesi by an additional two months.