Ontario Civil


Responsibility for ineffective communication lay with sender

Plaintiff brought claim for unpaid bonus earned for 2011, prior to his resignation from employment effective February 3, 2012. Defendant said bonus for 2011 was not payable under terms of written policy providing that there was no entitlement if employee was not active employee as at date bonus was due for payment, which was March 15, 2012. Claim allowed. Defendant attempted to communicate limiting terms of bonus policy to plaintiff’s attention by means of two e-mails. Neither e-mail contained actual message. Each contained attachment which, if opened, displayed overview and summary of incentive plan. Plaintiff conceded that e-mails were sent to his e-mail account, but denied seeing attachment until it was brought to his attention after Marcy 15, 2012. During his employment, plaintiff received 75 to 100 e-mails per day. Court concluded that more was required than two seemingly unimportant e-mails which were devoid of any message at all. In absence of contractual terms providing otherwise, responsibility for such ineffective communication lay with sender. Defendant was not entitled to rely on limiting terms and accordingly, plaintiff was entitled to payment of bonus in amount of $24,732.

Patterson v. Hanson Hardscape Products Inc. (Aug. 18, 2013, Ont. S.C.J., J. Sebastian Winny D.J., File No. Kitchener 1753/12) 231 A.C.W.S. (3d) 130.

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