A recent decision from Ontario’s Court of Appeal has upheld a judgement awarding a reasonable notice period of 30 months. This is among the longest notice periods awarded in Canada, being six months more than the typical maximum of twenty-four (24) months. While exceptional circumstances justified the longer notice period here, this decision may increase the likelihood that courts will consider lengthier notice periods in the future. Below, we review the key facts of this case that lead to this extraordinary outcome.
In Lynch v. Avaya Canada Corporation (2023) ONCA 696, the Avaya Canada Corporation terminated the employment of Mr. Lynch, an engineer who had been employed by the company for over 38 years. The parties failed to reach a termination settlement, and subsequently Mr. Lynch sued his former employer for wrongful dismissal. Mr. Lynch moved for summary judgement, and the motion judge found that a 30-month notice period was appropriate, a period well above the usual 24-month limit. Accordingly, Avaya appealed, giving rise to this Court of Appeal decision.
The Court of Appeal upheld the motion judge’s finding that a notice period of 30 months was appropriate due to Mr. Lynch’s nearly four decades of employment with Avaya, and his highly specialized experience designing software unique to Avaya. That is, his work experience was tailored to and limited by his specific experience while working with Avaya. In upholding the motion judge’s decision, the Court of Appeal also relied on the facts that Mr. Lynch had developed many patents for the corporation, that Mr. Lynch was identified as a key performer, and that job opportunities in Mr. Lynch’s hometown of Belleville would be scarce for the 64-year-old man.
Takeaway and Impact
While reasonable notice periods exceeding 24 months will continue to be awarded only in exceptional circumstances, this decision provides a reminder that Courts may use their discretion to justify lengthier notice periods based on the circumstances at hand. This case may impact future notice periods with respect to long-term employees.
PooranLaw will continue to monitor the ongoing legal developments related to cases like these and report on them here. In the meantime, if you require legal assistance, we encourage you to reach out to your regular PooranLaw lawyer, or any member of our team.
Note: This article provides general information only and does not constitute, and should not be relied upon as, legal advice or opinion. PooranLaw Professional Corporation holds the copyright to this article and its contents may not be copied or reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, without the express permission of PooranLaw Professional Corporation