Workplace Wire

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Beware of Hidden Pension Liabilities in Corporate Transactions

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Those who are engaged in the negotiation of purchase and sale agreements involving the transfer of employees from the seller to the purchaser should be aware of the implications of the B.C. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Kerfoot v. Weyerhaeuser Company

Kerfoot arose in the context of a transfer of a pulp mill. As a part of the transaction, the employment of all employees was terminated by the seller, and the purchaser offered them new employment in the same positions that they had had with the seller, at the same or similar wages. However, the pension plan provided by the purchaser was inferior to that provided by the seller. 

Two long-term, non-managerial employees who accepted employment with the purchaser were awarded damages in excess of $90,000 for the difference between the pension benefits that they would have earned in the seller’s employment during a reasonable notice period and what they actually earned with the purchaser. 

For further details and analysis of this decision, please see Heenan Blaikie’s latest [email protected] Bulletin.

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