Ousted AlarmForce CEO files $11 lawsuit for wrongful dismissal, damages
Sep 26, 2013 / 12:52 am
TORONTO - The recently ousted chief executive of AlarmForce Industries (TSX:AF) has filed a wrongful dismissal lawsuit against the home-security company he founded 25 years ago.
Joel Matlin, who was at the home security company's helm since its inception in 1988 and often the voice and face of AlarmForce in ad campaigns, claims he was dismissed without cause or notice, which goes against the terms of his contract.
He's also asking for punitive and aggravated damages because of the way the firing was handled.
"The bad faith manner of termination above has caused Joel to suffer additional mental distress, damage to his reputation, and aggravated damages beyond his contractual damages for wrongful dismissal," the statement of claim says.
It says a press release issued on July 23 by AlarmForce "implies some impropriety or blame on Joel's part, and is damaging to his reputation."
The press release said that Matlin's employment as president and chief executive had been terminated by the AlarmForce board of directors following a strategic review of the company. It said Matlin would continue to serve as a director, although he later resigned the position.
None of the allegations in Matlin's suit has been proven in court and may be challenged by the company. AlarmForce was not immediately available for comment.
The $11.3-million claim includes $1.3 million for wrongful dismissal and $10 million in damages. He also wants AlarmForce to acknowledge he was wrongfully dismissed.
Matlin, 65, said in the statement of claim that he was terminated ahead of a meeting to present his new vision for the company to the board of directors, and forced to leave the building without being given time to collect his belongings.
The suit also claims several of Matlin's family members working at AlarmForce were suspended and then terminated because of their relationship with him.
Those included his son, who was fired upon his return to work following two weeks of paternal leave, and Matlin's step-son, who was reported to police for failing to leave the premises despite being given permission to stay by a human resources manager, the suit said.
"The experience has been very tough because the dismissal was an absolute surprise to me and I'm just astounded by the way the board treated me," Matlin said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
He has previously said he plans to rally shareholders to reinstate him through a proxy vote, and that the termination stemmed from conflicts with chief financial officer Anthony Pizzonia, who has been named interim president and chief executive.
Matlin declined to comment Wednesday on any plans to get his job back.
AlarmForce provides security alarm monitoring, personal emergency response monitoring, video surveillance and other services in Canada and the United States.
A strategic review, which included a possible sale of the company, was completed earlier this year without a deal.
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