Chemist Dave Matthews was awarded $1M, but amount was overturned on appeal

‘The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear the case of a fisheries scientist who argued he was a victim of constructive dismissal by his former employer, Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd.

Chemist Dave Matthews resigned from the fish oil company in 2011 after he said he’d been progressively stripped of his responsibilities at the company in Dartmouth, N.S. He said it amounted to constructive dismissal.

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge agreed. In his 2017 ruling, Justice Arthur LeBlanc detailed how a couple of senior executives at Ocean Nutrition undermined Matthews’s position at the company to the point where he was reduced to about two hours of work a day.

LeBlanc, who has since been named Nova Scotia’s lieutenant governor, awarded Matthews more than $1 million. The dollar amount was based on an executive incentive plan that took effect in 2012 when Ocean Nutrition was sold to Dutch multinational Royal DSM for $540 million.

But in a ruling last May, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal found that LeBlanc was wrong to award those damages.

The Appeal Court based its decision on the wording of the incentive plan, which said a person had to be an employee of the company at the time of the sale in order to benefit from the plan.

However, the Court of Appeal agreed with LeBlanc’s assessment that Ocean Nutrition’s treatment of Matthews amounted to constructive dismissal.

In a decision released Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed to hear Matthews’s appeal. No date has yet been set to hear the case.

Originally posted on by Blair Rhodes on January 31, 2019