Once upon a time, employees did not sign employment contracts with termination clauses and employment lawyers fought over the appropriate “reasonable” notice period. In 2017, however, employees now claim in addition to wrongful dismissal damages, human rights damages, moral or Wallace damages, punitive damages, and damages for the intentional infliction of mental stress.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently awarded an employee $50,000 in punitive damages in a wrongful dismissal claim because it was “rationally required” to punish the employer for its behaviour toward the employee and to meet “the objectives of retribution, deterrence, and denunciation”.
The three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with: Meal and vehicle rates used to calculate travel expenses for 2016; important changes to form RC59 coming; and case about employee who was awarded punitive damages in dismissal claim.
The Court acknowledged that an employer may allege just cause, and later abandon that claim at any time. The Court held that it wouldn’t be appropriate to penalize an employer for changing its mind if it initially had a reasonable basis to believe it had just cause to terminate an employee. As such, it is important to investigate and document any evidence of employee misconduct, and to act accordingly.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly. A prime example of employer misconduct for failing to accommodate and providing reasonable notice is the case of Strudwick v Applied Consumer & Clinical Evaluations Inc. This case highlights a number of important lessons for employers.
Despite workplace boredom being a mundane reality of some working lives, it may also be the catalyst for more serious workplace concerns. At the extreme, in limited circumstances, boredom could even form the basis for constructive dismissal.
Ontario courts are rightly increasing their protection of employees from harassment and assault in the workplace. This case serves as a strong deterrent to employers and employees who do not comprehend or acknowledge the severe implications of their actions.
Many employees now claim more than one type of legal damages in a wrongful dismissal case. This is particularly the case when the employee is disabled. The following case is a good example.
Termination of an employment relationship can come in many forms; some apparent and some not so. In the latter case, it often falls to a court to determine whether an employer’s actions constitute dismissal or constructive dismissal. This was the issue faced by Justice Lack in the recent decision of Sweeting v Mok.
Since 2008, Courts have wrestled with wrongful dismissal claims in which employees make claims of entitlements to damages beyond reasonable notice. One of these categories is punitive damages. Punitive damage claims are usually found where there are allegations of bad faith or vindictive treatment. Traditionally, such awards were handed out rarely, in cases viewed by the Courts as among the worst. However, recently Courts have been more inclined to hand out these damages, and in increasing numbers. A recent decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice is a prime example of this trend.
In Meloche c. Structures Lamerain inc., the Court of Appeal recently upheld the Superior Court’s decision to award moral damages, in addition to an award for pay in lieu of notice of termination of employment, to two employees who were dismissed in an abusive manner.
Last month, I wrote about a vulnerable, low paid employee who obtained $150,000 from her former employer by filing a complaint under the Ontario Human Rights Code. This month, I am writing about a vulnerable, low paid employee who obtained $300,000 from her former employer using Ontario’s court system.
Punitive damages: Court of Appeal of Quebec reduces damages payable by an employer following a constructive dismissal
On July 7, 2014, the majority of the Quebec Court of Appeal allowed an appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court that had ordered the employer to pay an amount of $1,086,767 due to a constructive dismissal, to reduce the amount of the damages awarded to $709,488.
Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with Statistics Canada 2013 study on hours worked and labour productivity; Bardal factors; and, the award of punitive damages for failure to investigate workplace harassment.
On May 22, 2014 the Ontario Court of Appeal (OCA) released the Boucher v. Wal-Mart Canada decision. It could rock the wrongful dismissal world.