In 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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