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

BC judge lengthens notice period


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 province-wide state of emergency.

The sales rep had 23 consecutive years of service under his belt, having initially joined Data General, which was acquired by the now Dell-owned EMC Corporation in 1999. At the time of his firing, he was 64.

Hawes claimed Dell Canada failed to provide a reasonable notice period, which he determined to be 24 months, based on his age, infirmity, and a jobs market flooded with newly fired sales executives. In court documents, counsel for the plaintiff cited a “recent and very serious injury” to his leg and knee which would hamper his ability to find suitable work.

Complicating matters, he was also bound by a one-year non-compete and non-solicitation agreement.

Although Dell offered a severance package that included a payout of C$40,769.23 ($33,464, £23,756), this was fraction of Hawes’ earnings, according to court documents [PDF]. In the period between 2017 and 2019, his average annual earnings amounted to $392,249.60, taking into account performance bonuses. Dell’s proposed package also lacked pension contributions, and would have seen his life and disability insurance coverage terminated.

In its response [PDF], Dell countered that as Hawes’ previous average salary was heavily influenced by performance, future payouts were not guaranteed, and were likely to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also accused Hawes of disparaging the company to customers, and of acting in bad faith by discussing its settlement negotiations in a public forum. It pointed to a LinkedIn post where Hawes purportedly wrote: “Working on a massive settlement with Dell.”

Finding for the plaintiff, the Honourable Madam Justice Iyer ordered Dell to pay Hawes C$473,238 (about $388k, £275k), plus costs.

This figure was calculated based on a reasonable notice period of 21 months (three fewer than originally requested) and projected monthly earnings of C$24,792 ($20k, £14.4k).

In setting on the 21-month mark, Justice Iyer factored into account Hayes’ age, the non-compete and non-solicitation clauses in his contract, and the fact that he had been fired at the outset of the pandemic.

Fourteen months on, Hawes has yet to find gainful employment. Although the court found that he had not made a “constant and assiduous effort,” Justice Iyer did not factor this into her ruling, saying that Dell had failed to establish the matter in court, or provide evidence of relevant job opportunities.

We have asked Dell for comment. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading
  • Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?
    Also, Chinese IT admin jailed for deleting database, and the NSA promises no more backdoors

    In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn't pay a $20 million ransom. 

    Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government's computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti's leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

    Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency." 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022