Investment banker awarded $400,000

When it comes to bonuses, employers can exercise discretion — as long as it’s fair and reasonable, says court
|Canadian Employment Law Today

Frederick Chann was an investment banker for RBC Dominion Securities Inc. He was 38 when terminated without cause in September 2002. He rejected a lump-sum severance offer of $325,000 plus a $53,009 bonus and continuation of his benefits for seven months. He filed an action seeking damages in lieu of reasonable notice and an amount that would represent appropriate remuneration up to the date of termination.

Chann had worked in a number of positions of responsibility between 1992 and 1999. He was well-liked, loyal, conscientious and competent. In 1999 he transferred to a specialized group within investment banking. Towards the end of that year concerns were first voiced about his business development skills as investment bankers are expected to originate new business and leave the transaction business to younger members of the firm.

Towards the end of 2000 Chann’s supervisor, Graham MacMillan, told a colleague he felt Chann was not adequately performing his business development tasks, that there were other individuals who were more sales-oriented and that he wanted one of them to replace Chann. A year later this message was relayed to Chann. The situation continued that way until 2003 when MacMillan, believing there were other individuals who were capable of growing the retail structures products business more quickly than Chann, pushed for him to be replaced.