Executives are a unique class of employees and, as such, have been treated differently by the courts. All things being equal, the courts have recognized that executives are entitled to more extended notice periods as the availability of similar employment opportunities is fewer than other lower-level or generalized classes of employees.
While there is no rigid definition of what constitutes an executive, few would doubt that there is a nature and quality to their employment that makes them different. Usually, the title of a person is essential but only sometimes. Sometimes their duties and responsibilities as distinct from their title would make them an executive. The notion of supervision and responsibility for others within the corporation is noteworthy. We often talk about who reports to you and whom you report to as indicative of your placement as an executive in an organization. Other times the amount of compensation and other entitlements you receive will be a hallmark of reaching the executive plateau.
Executives, while employees, are unique and often have compensation entitlements different from other types of employees. Given their status and significance to employers and their business undertakings (and contributions to profitability), it is common for executives to receive and be granted compensation entitlements such as stock options, equity grants, bonus incentives, expense accounts, and retention bonuses.
The language and drafting of the policies related to executive compensation entitlements are usually, but not always, fundamental to an assessment of an executive’s entitlement generally or upon departure.
Ontario courts, however, have been rethinking and reconsidering the historic principles considered in the past. More recently, it appears the courts are prepared to intervene to ensure that bonuses and other incentives are paid where there has been inducement and the employee has otherwise met the required targets.
Two considerations are in play:
- An employer should not enjoy a tactical or practical advantage over the payment of the bonus or inducement when it alone gets to decide when someone’s employment is terminated.
- There are principles of fairness and equity and the need to adequately compensate an executive for their efforts and contributions already made – almost an unjust enrichment type of analysis.
The bottom line is that just because the policy says you have to be employed on the day of payout doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have a valid claim for compensation or some portion of it.
Executive Employment Lawyer
If you need an executive employment lawyer, contact John Evans.
With 30 years of experience as a practising litigation/employment/labour lawyer, John is focused on achieving the very best results for his clients. He has fine-tuned his skills and mastered the art of persuasion. With his stellar reputation, John holds the respect of the lawyers he acts against. Smart, tactical and a particularly quick study, John is committed to exceeding his clients’ expectations.
Contact Evans Law Firm
Contact Evans Law Firm today for a free no-obligation consultation with an executive employment lawyer. Sometimes time limits can bar an otherwise good claim from being advanced. Please don’t delay and contact us as soon as possible. There is no cost until John is formally retained and a written retainer agreement is in place.