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Ontario Court of Appeal upholds award of $60,000 in moral damages

moral damagesIn a recent case, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a substantial award of moral damages to an employee subjected to long–term sexual harassment, after she made a formal complaint to her manager. Unfortunately, such behavior from employers continues to persist despite the present anti–discrimination laws, and hopefully cases like these set a trend of strong enforcement, which would serve as a more effective deterrent to employers.

In this case, the employee worked for the employer for almost a decade, and was the only woman in the workplace at the time she was fired. The employee was subjected to continuous sexual harassment by one of the employer’s managers who openly stared and pretended to photograph her breasts, as well as demean her in front of the other employees. The employee filed a harassment complaint with the general manager, who suggested that doing so would damage the employee’s professional reputation. The employee was fired a few days later, and asked to sign a waiver of her rights associated with the years of harassment that she had experienced.

At the trial level the court held that the employer did not act properly and with good faith when dismissing the employee, and ordered moral damages, which are intended to compensate the employee for the unfair treatment that she had received. The Court was particularly concerned with the employer’s behavior after the employee filed the complaint. The employer appealed the order for moral damages, claiming only $20,000.00 would have been appropriate. The Appeal Court upheld the award of $60,000.00 in moral damages noting the highly oppressive and insensitive nature of the employer’s conduct.

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De Bousquet PC Barristers and Solicitors

Civil Litigation Lawyers at De Bousquet PC Barristers and Solicitors
De Bousquet law offers experienced counsel and representation in multiple aspects of employment law, labour relations, commercial law and civil litigation. Jean-Alexandre De Bousquet, founder of the firm, interned for the Canadian Centre for International Justice, worked for an Ottawa law firm and pursued a career with the Attorney General of Ontario. In 2014, Jean-Alexandre was named one of Ontario's "leading experts" in human rights law by Legal Action Magazine. Jean-Alexandre handles cases related to wrongful dismissal, workplace discrimination, breach of contract, fraud and commercial disputes. Jean-Alexandre is fully fluent in French and English and represents clients before courts and tribunals using both official languages.Before the practice of law, Jean-Alexandre was a journalist at the CBC for 3 years. Other notable achievements include employment with the Canada Research Chair on Native Peoples and Legal Diversity, the Canadian Research Chair on Metis Identity and the Urban League, a U.S. civil rights organization. Jean-Alexandre has also published articles in prominent academic journals and presented papers at international conferences in Canada and the U.S.
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