Employee not only in exclusive relationship with employer but economically dependent one

Labour and Employment Law - Employment law - Termination and dismissal

Employee worked as wardrobe stylist and then fashion studio manager for 23 years until she was dismissed without cause. Employee brought action seeking damages for wrongful dismissal and sought reimbursement for amounts deducted from her wages while she was still employed. Summary judgment was granted in favour of employee. Employer appealed. Appeal dismissed. Motion judge did not err by finding that employee was dependent contractor during certain time period. Motion judge adverted to correct legal test for determining dependent contractor status. Motion judge clearly concluded that employee was not only in exclusive relationship with employer but economically dependent one. Motion judge did not err in calculating damages for wrongful dismissal. In circumstances of case, and considering 23-year work history, 21 months of common law notice was squarely within reasonable range. This was not case where employee’s contribution to benefits could reduce typical percentage of base salary awarded in lieu of benefits during notice period. There was no error in motion judge’s approach towards cell phone expenses. It was open to motion judge to arrive at conclusion that, while employee was being reimbursed for her cell phone expenses, she personally benefited from use of cell phone. It was open to motion judge to award damages on that basis.

Cormier v. 1772887 Ontario Limited (St. Joseph Communications) (2019), 2019 CarswellOnt 19955, 2019 ONCA 965, K. Feldman J.A., Fairburn J.A., and M. Jamal J. (Ont. C.A.); affirmed (2019), 2019 CarswellOnt 852, 2019 ONSC 587, Perell J. (Ont. S.C.J.).

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