MONTREAL, June 14, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - In a historic judgment made public yesterday, Judge François P. Duprat of the Superior Court of Quebec ordered IBM Canada to pay more than $ 23 million to a group of 451 employees and former employees of its plant in Bromont, Quebec. Judge Duprat ruled that IBM could not go back on a promise made to employees to pay them a bridge benefit upon early retirement, benefit they were about to become eligible to receive.
The judgment comes following the trial on the merits of a class action initiated by Mr. Jean Samoisette in 2008. The Court agreed with Mr. Samoisette who saw an injustice in the decision of his employer to remove the bridge benefit on the eve of his retirement. The affected workers had been at IBM an average of 27 years.
"We were proud to work for IBM and believed in its promises" said Samoisette. "We were extremely disappointed when IBM announced its decision. We counted on the bridge benefit for our retirement and for us, a promise was a promise. "
The judgment confirms that even if a company reserves itself the right to unilaterally amend its pension plan, it cannot refuse to honour a commitment to pay an advantage that employees have earned through their work.
The victory is not total however, as the judgment sides with IBM on its right to modify the insurance plan, a change that was also contested by Mr. Samoisette.
Mr. Samoisette and IBM have 30 days to decide if they appeal the judgment.
Mr. Samoisette is represented by the firm Trudel & Johnston Lesperance which specializes in class actions and public interest litigation.