By Kate McNeill, Kelly McDermott, and Donovan Plomp
On Friday, June 27, 2008, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) released its decision in Honda Canada Inc. v. Keays, reversing the largest award of punitive damages in a wrongful dismissal action in Canadian history. The decision is very favorable for employers.
Kevin Keays was a long service Honda employee who was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome in 1997. He returned to work after a period on long-term disability benefits. Honda exempted him from its attendance-related progressive discipline policy but required him to provide a medical note for each absence, which was not required of employees suffering “mainstream” illnesses.
Keays’ sporadic absences continued, and Honda hired Dr. B to assess Keays. Keays hired a lawyer, who wanted to clarify the purpose of the meeting with Dr. B. Honda refused to deal with Keays’ lawyer and made Keays subject to its attendance-related discipline policy. When he continued to refuse to meet with Dr. B without Honda clarifying the purpose of the meeting, Honda terminated his employment for insubordination. read more…