Two former Rogers Communications Inc. RCI-B-T executives, including the chief regulatory officer who helped the telecom secure approval for its takeover of Shaw Communications Inc., are suing the company for wrongful dismissal amid the job cuts and leadership changes that have followed the $20-billion deal.
Ted Woodhead, the telecom’s former chief regulatory officer and head of government affairs, is seeking damages for “wrongful dismissal, breach of contract and unjust enrichment,” claiming he has been denied his Shaw bonus despite being a “key player in the discussions” and “integral to its eventual success,” according to his statement of claim.
The other lawsuit was filed in April by Moheni Singh, a former human resources vice-president. Ms. Singh alleges the company promised her certain compensation in exchange for postponing her retirement, then dismissed her shortly before she would have been entitled to receive that compensation. The company’s conduct toward Ms. Singh was “malicious, oppressive and high-handed,” she alleges in court documents.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Rogers has denied Ms. Singh’s claims in its statement of defence, saying it “honoured its contractual obligations” to Ms. Singh and provided her with “generous separation entitlements,” including a bonus and 13 months of salary.
“It appears from the statement of claim that the plaintiff now wishes she had made a different bargain with the company,” the statement said.
A spokesperson said the company would be responding to Mr. Woodhead’s suit through the courts.
The lawsuits follow a leadership shuffle and job reductions at the Toronto-based telecom in the wake of its successful takeover of Calgary-based Shaw.
Rogers has been shrinking its head count since closing the deal in April after an arduous, two-year regulatory review process. Last week, the telecom and media giant launched a voluntary staff departure program with the aim of eliminating overlapping roles.
The company did not specify how many employees it expects to apply but said it will continue to review its work force and eliminate duplication after the program’s conclusion.
The Globe and Mail previously reported that a number of Rogers employees have been let go over the past three months. Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, a Canadian law firm that specializes in employment law, has said that since June 22 it has been contacted by numerous Rogers and Shaw employees claiming they had been laid off owing to the restructuring surrounding the deal.
Rogers has said the number of employees who have left the company over the past three months constitutes a “small percentage” of its work force.
In court documents, Rogers said Ms. Singh was let go as part of the company’s restructuring process, which included reassigning employees and laying off “at least 35 senior employees,” including Ms. Singh and two other senior HR executives.
Rogers chief executive officer Tony Staffieri made a number of changes to the executive leadership team after being appointed to the top job in late 2021 following a tumultuous boardroom battle that unseated his predecessor, Joe Natale.
One of those changes was promoting Mr. Woodhead, whom Mr. Natale had recruited from Telus Corp., where Mr. Woodhead had worked for 15 years.
In court documents, Mr. Woodhead said he was a “conscientious and diligent employee who served the interests of his employer to the best of his ability.”
“Woodhead performed his role very well, earning consistently solid ratings on his performance reviews and receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback regarding his performance and his career trajectory at Rogers,” reads a document filed July 4.
He was let go shortly after the deal closed amid several other leadership changes, including the appointment of former industry minister Navdeep Bains to the newly created role of chief corporate affairs officer.
Mr. Woodhead is seeking roughly $350,000 in incentive compensation, $2.46-million in deferred compensation and $1.89-million he would have earned over what he calls a “reasonable notice period of 16 months.”
According to court documents and the company’s previous disclosures, the Shaw bonuses awarded to Rogers executives are contingent on meeting certain milestones on the first and second anniversaries of the deal’s completion.