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$85,000.00 human rights award against employer in sexual harassment case upheld on appeal

sexual harassmentIn a recent case titled Doyle v. Zochem Inc., the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a decision to award both moral damages and damages pursuant to the Human Rights Code (Code) without subtracting one from the other. This case involved a female supervisor who was demeaned and belittled by a male manager in front of the rest of her work staff. Upon filing a complaint for sexual harassment, the employer terminated her without cause.

In the trial judgement, the female employee was awarded $60,000.00 for moral damages and $25,000.00 for damages pursuant to the Code. The employer then appealed, claiming that the Plaintiff was “double dipping.” That is, the damages received pursuant to the Code and those awarded for moral wrongdoing served a similar purpose, and thus, ought to be subtracted from one another. The Court disagreed, stating that each award serves a different purpose, allowing a Plaintiff to receive damages for moral wrongdoing and damages pursuant to the Code independently.

This case serves as an example of how serious our Canadian Courts are now treating sexual harassment in the workplace. As a result, employers ought to be warned that a thorough investigation, one conducted in a fair and impartial manner, is required when complaints of sexual harassment are made.

As for employees, we may be comforted by the fact that Canadian Courts are aware of the moral suffering that results from sexual harassment and are willing to award damages accordingly.

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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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