According to the Supreme Court, “The Damages Formerly Known As Wallace” (damages for bad faith in the course of dismissal) are to be compensatory rather than arbitrary extensions of the notice period. But what if the employer acted in bad faith, but the employee didn't suffer any damages? What circumstances should justify an award?
The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal recently awarded a woman $35,000 after her employer fired her when she revealed on her first day of work that she was four months pregnant. (The award covered $20,000 in lost wages and benefits, and $15,000 for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.) In addition to the damage award, given the overwhelming number of women working for the employer, the tribunal ordered the company to implement and distribute a written policy on the accommodation of pregnancy to ensure future compliance.
Clearly, if a court finds that one party has been dishonest, it will have serious negative repercussions with respect to their chances of success. It can also result in a cost award against them. The question for today, however, is whether it is appropriate to also find parties who lie during the litigation process in contempt, and if so, what the appropriate penalty should be.