ONCA Overturns Rahman v Cannon Design Architecture Inc

Employee's Level of Sophistication Has No Bearing on Enforceability of Termination Clause

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8 June 2022
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The ONCA released its decision in Rahman v Cannon Design Architecture Inc, 2022 ONCA 451 this morning. The Court overturned the lower court's decision, which upheld an otherwise illegal termination provision because the employee sought legal advice prior to signing her employment contract. 

The Court reasoned:

[24] In my view, the motion judge erred in law when he allowed considerations of Ms. Rahman’s sophistication and access to independent legal advice, coupled with the parties’ subjective intention to not contravene the ESA, to override the plain language in the termination provisions in the Employment Contracts. By allowing subjective considerations to distort and override the wording of those provisions, the motion judge committed an extricable error of law reviewable on a correctness standard: Amberber v. IBM Canada Ltd., 2018 ONCA 571, 424 D.L.R. (4th) 169, at para. 65. It is the wording of a termination provision which determines whether it contravenes the ESA – even compliance with ESA obligations on termination does not have the effect of saving a termination provision that violates the ESA: Wood v. Fred Deeley Imports Ltd., 2017 ONCA 158, 134 O.R. (3d) 481, at paras. 43-44.

As a result, the termination provision was set aside and the Plaintiff is entitled to reasonable notice. 

Congratulations to Stephen Moreau and Kaley Duff for their work in achieving this excellent result for Ms. Rahman. 

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