back to article Canadian province's supreme court orders Dell to pay nearly $500,000 to sales rep fired in his twilight years

The British Columbia Supreme Court has ordered Dell Canada to pay a former sales representative nearly C$500,000 in damages after ruling he had been wrongfully terminated. The suit was filed [PDF] by Vancouver resident James Hawes. Dell Canada fired Hawes on March 25, 2020, less than two weeks after British Columbia entered a …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    64 years old, $390K retirement package

    Doesn't sound like he needs to find work to me.

    Good for him and, as usual, shame on corporate behemoths who, apparently universally, cheat on the very people bringing in the contracts.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: 64 years old, $390K retirement package

      Not a bad payoff, but he seemed to have been doing quite well in his job before he was shoved out the door.

      I am curious as to why it might matter whether he was actively and continuously looking for work after being sacked. Should the compensation for wrongful termination be influenced by that?

      1. RegGuy1 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: 64 years old, $390K retirement package

        I am curious as to why it might matter whether he was actively and continuously looking for work after being sacked.

        That was to feed into a Daily Mail story about the lazy unemployed, or the incompetent rich, or ... :-)

      2. Bitsminer Bronze badge

        Re: 64 years old, $390K retirement package

        Ahhh, the niceties of Canadian employment law.

        If you are fired, the severance is not for years of service but to tide you over until you can find a roughly equivalent job. And you have to diligently search for same (that is, take notes of your Monster.com searches for "inside sales for an ISP".) The judge was fairly nice to the complainant giving him 21 months.

        Nothing was said about Dell's initial offer of 8 weeks and subsequent counter of 18 to 22 months (para 24 of the linked response by Dell). An instance of dealing in bad faith, perhaps?

        Dell also pointed out several subsequent decisions by customers to not purchase further or not purchase as much as previously. This is not under the control of the complainant and seems to be a distraction from the issues. Typical.

        Their counsel is Dentons. Their invoice would be in the same range as the settlement; this is one of the top of the top amongst legal firms in Canada.

        His birthday is probably September 2021, since that is the limit of the benefits offered (medical/dental): no obligation to extend past the 65th birthday.

        And as for $390k, that is a pittance in the Vancouver market; you would need about $2M properly invested to support a $130k/year lifestyle. Nothing was said (nor need it be) about his current assets.

        1. tip pc Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: 64 years old, $390K retirement package

          £75k pa retirement would be nice.

          1. tyrfing

            Re: 64 years old, $390K retirement package

            That depends very much on where you live.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: 64 years old, $390K retirement package

          "Dell also pointed out several subsequent decisions by customers to not purchase further or not purchase as much as previously."

          Previous reports suggest working at home has prompted increased sales of PCs. Perhaps Dell's customers aren't purchasing as much because they can't find a salesman to sell them stuff.

      3. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Re: 64 years old, $390K retirement package

        "Should the compensation for wrongful termination be influenced by that?" In most jurisdictions, yes. If he had walked into similar or better paying employment he would have received very little.

        Regardless, Dell acted disgracefully but got off lightly. They would have been better advised to settle rather than go to litigation as "plus costs" would have been a fair amount as would Dell's own legal fees.

        "disparaging the company to customers" i.e. he told the truth.

        1. Blank Reg Silver badge

          Re: 64 years old, $390K retirement package

          It surprising that it even got that far. Here in Canada all it usually takes to improve a low-ball severance package is a letter from a lawyer. Most companies know they are won't get away with it and will just pay up the going rate. In IT, at his age and with his experience it should have been in the range of 18-24 months.

      4. Rodderstoo

        Re: 64 years old, $390K retirement package

        I would assume that, like English law, you have to make best efforts to mitigate your losses when making a civil claim.

  2. elDog

    Oh dear. Now Dell will need to raise its prices again to pay for this settlement...

    Not shave a tiny bit off of Michael Dell's very generous packages.

    Sounds like a typical Oracle or IBM stunt - shaft the workers before they can collect their due rewards.

    1. ayay

      Re: Oh dear. Now Dell will need to raise its prices again to pay for this settlement...

      Who thought that leaving the decision about the employee collecting (or not) their due rewards up to the companies employing them - thus paying the bill - would have a different outcome?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh dear. Now Dell will need to raise its prices again to pay for this settlement...

      My severance from Oracle was right in line with what it should have been, and they even allowed me to take it in two lump sums, so I could spread it over two tax years.

      But that is Oracle Canada and by the time I got let go they had probably already been burned a few times trying to not pay out as much as they should have. My colleagues south of the border didn't fare as well.

  3. Canucklehead

    One of the best

    I had the pleasure to work with Mr Hawes back in 2009-2010. He was consistently one of the very best in the business and had a elevated position of trust with his customers. It was an honour to work with him.

  4. gandalfcn Silver badge

    "wrongfully terminated". So he was killed then. Oh! Wait! You mean fired, dismissed, sacked. Next you'll be "reaching out".

  5. lglethal Silver badge
    Facepalm

    I dont quite get the thinking...

    So you're entering a pandemic, with lockdowns and the like, you (as the manager) are fearing that things are not looking so rosy, sales might start dropping, profits down, your bojnus affected, not good in other words. So your first port of call? Sack your highly experienced sales staff??? Those with the years of existing contacts???

    Really, you have to start wondering about the stupidity of management at times...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I dont quite get the thinking...

      No need to wonder about it at all.

      I have seen it consistently in action for the last 4 decades...

    2. Velv
      Facepalm

      Re: I dont quite get the thinking...

      Not only that, the guy was on commission. So if sales do drop dramatically, you only need to cover his very meagre salary, not his annual earnings.

  6. xyz123

    Dell's processes and internal quality leave a lot to be desired.

    I've seen "support" staff tell customers that 1/2 their dell keyboard belongs to Dell, but the right side including the keypad is the responsibility of their ISP!

    Seriously - Poor woman was complaining she'd been perma-assigned a moron as her "dell advisor" and wanted to change to someone else.

  7. MericanMan

    Still beats the US

    I'm always shocked to see the differing laws and treatment of employees in countries other than the US. Here, if your company wants to fire you, there is no mandatory notice period or severance package. In fact, standard practice is zero notice (i.e., you're walked out the door by HR/security the moment they've told you you're being fired, so that you can't potentially steal information or equipment, tell the other employees what happened, etc). If you're instead being "laid off" ("made redundant" in the UK, as I understand), you're likely to have some notice, and in fact if the company is of a certain size then there is a legal requirement of a certain notice period (even then, only 60 days) if they're laying off at least 50 people, but severance is never guaranteed unless you're at the level where you have an employment contract that lays out that sort of thing, and that's typically reserved for upper management positions.

    Nor does a company need a good (or even any) reason as to why they're firing you. Of course, they're not allowed to do it for certain protected reasons (race, age, sexual orientation, etc), so in practice most companies want some well-documented reasons laid out as to why it's happening to avoid potential legal claims, but that certainly isn't a requirement.

    Our employee protections are definitely much weaker than in many other developed countries. In some ways, this doesn't particularly bother me, as I don't feel that a company "owes" me anything other than the pay for work I've done for them and any other pay or benefits that might have been promised, and if they no longer want me working there then that's their choice (as it could be my choice to leave as well if I wanted to). Then again, I'm in a highly-paid tech position and have never had trouble finding another job (I've never been fired, but have chosen to leave some companies and had one bought out and shut down). It's more difficult for lower-wage positions, where they are far less likely to have any savings to tide them over until they find another job, where competition for those jobs is higher because there's a much bigger pool of people that can do it, and where similar practices by all of the employers in their industry mean they can't simply go elsewhere if their company is paying or treating them poorly, because they may all do it.

    Regardless of countries having different laws though, it seems to be a common theme that many companies won't follow those laws, and I always appreciate seeing them called out and punished for it. Though unfortunately for most employees that might find themselves in a situation like this, they often either can't afford to go through the legal process to win a claim like this, or it takes so long that their life has been severely impacted in any case (evicted, etc).

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