The standard limitation period for claims in Ontario is two years. If an individual or business is considering a lawsuit they are always well advised to consult a Lawyer as early as possible to determine when the two year limitation period begins and when it ends.
The recent Ontario Court of Appeal case, Ali v. O-Two Medical Technologies Inc. 2013 ONCA 733, shows the difficulty of determining a limitation period in certain employment disputes. In this case the Plaintiff worked on commission to sell medical devices in Iraq for his employer. Shortly after one such significant sale in December 2006 the employer notified the Plaintiff that it was unilaterally changing his commission structure. The Plaintiff continued working for his employer but informed it that he expected the original and higher commission to be paid. After the sale was completed the employer paid the Plaintiff the reduced commission in November 2007. Unhappy with the lower commission, the Plaintiff eventually started a court action in September 2009, well over two years from the date that he was first informed of the new commission structure.
The employer argued that by the time the Plaintiff commenced his court action over two years had passed since he was informed of the changes to his contract and it was too late to bring the dispute to court. However, in December 2013 the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that this was not the case and decided that the two year limitation period did not start until the Plaintiff actually received the reduced commission in November 2007. The Plaintiff’s court action was allowed to proceed.
Whenever an employer tries to modify an existing contract by reducing an employee’s compensation it creates the possibility of a legal action. The case of Ali v. O-Two Medical Technologies Inc. is an interesting example of when these contractual changes also increase the limitation period in which an employee can commence a claim in court.
Based in Kanata, the law firm of Allan Snelling LLP provides employment law advice to both employees and employers throughout Ottawa and the surrounding area.