Blackberry Sues Executive for Violating Employment Terms


Blackberry recently filed a lawsuit against a former executive, claiming that he violated his terms of employment. The lawsuit was filed against former executive vice president of development Sebastien Marineau-Mes. The court ruled in favor of Blackberry citing that their claims were indeed valid.

Marineau-Mes had been an employee for QNX Software Systems before it was acquired by Blackberry in 2010. After the takeover, he continued working for Blackberry where he was promoted to the position of senior vice president for software. Last fall, he was promoted again to the position of executive vice president of platform development where he was responsible for almost 3,000 employees along with 11 other vice presidents.

Marineau-Mes, however, was not satisfied with his position and was considering other options. He had multiple discussions with newly appointed CEO John Chen where he often contemplated his future at the company.

Marineau-Mes signed his contract for the position of executive vice president on October 16, 2013. However, a month before he signed the contract, he met with Apple and discussed a possible employment opportunity with them. Apple offered him the position of vice president Core OS, making him responsible for the software development related to Apple’s OS. Marineau-Mes accepted and moved on to provide a notice of resignation to Blackberry.

The notice was provided on December 23, 2013, where Marineau-Mes stated that he would begin working with Apple in two months’ time. This, however, directly violated a clause in Marineau-Mes’ employment contract. The contract stated that the employee was free to resign from the company at any time, provided that they presented a written notice six months prior to the date of resignation. For violating this very point in the employment contract, Blackberry sued their former executive vice president.

Blackberry claimed that this contract was binding and that Marineau-Mes was obligated to follow it. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Monday sided with Blackberry and stated that Marineau-Mes had indeed violated the terms of his contract. He was ordered to pay the legal fee while Blackberry had to pay for the court hearing. Maruneau-Mes was also bound to the firm till his actual six month expiration which ends on June 23, 2014.

In a statement, Blackberry said that they were pleased that the court supported their claim and ruled that the employment contract along with all the listed terms were valid. The company added that Blackberry would not stand idly by while a former employee freely violates his contract. They considered going to such extremes unfortunate but said that it was necessary to ensure that employees – current or former – valued their employment contract.

An independent technology analyst Carmi Levy said, the court ruling sends out a strong message to executives everywhere. Abandoning ship at a particular point might not be as easy as many might think. Blackberry’s decision to involve the court also sends a message to investors and analysts everywhere. Blackberry wants to make it clear that they are not going to give up and will continue to fight for what they believe to be true. According to Levy, by filling a lawsuit against an executive for violating the terms of his employment contract,Blackberry managed to do just that.

By Hammad Ali





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