Human rights damages awarded by Ontario court

January 19, 2014 0 COMMENTS

By Eowynne Noble

In 2008, Ontario’s Human Rights Code was revised to specifically permit Ontario courts to award damages for breaches of the Code. Before this, it was only the Human Rights Tribunal that had jurisdiction to award damages for human rights violations in Ontario.

Since then, Ontario plaintiffs have made many attempts to obtain human rights damages in wrongful dismissal and other employment-related lawsuits, but none have succeeded until now. For the first time, the Ontario Superior Court has awarded damages for a breach of the Code in Wilson v. Solis Mexican Foods, 2013 ONSC 5799. read more…

Silence as acceptance when company sold

August 11, 2013 0 COMMENTS

By Keri Bennett

Canadian employees may believe that a change in ownership of a company results in a change in the terms of employment and requirement for a new employment contract. Not so. In Whittemore v. Open Text Corporation, the Ontario Superior Court made it clear that the original terms of employment remained valid after a share purchase. The court also made it clear that employees are required to advise their employer if they do not accept a change to their terms of employment. read more…

Layoff as constructive dismissal: a cautionary tale for employers

December 09, 2012 0 COMMENTS

By Ralph N. Nero and Keri L. Bennett

When is a layoff not a layoff? When it is a constructive dismissal, according to an Ontario judge. McLean v. The Rawyal Limited Partnership reaffirms the principle that unless incorporated as an express or implied term of the employment contract, a layoff may be treated as constructive dismissal–meaning the employee can sue for pay in lieu of reasonable notice.

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Appeal Court Overrides Extravagant Jury Award in Wrongful Dismissal Case

June 19, 2011 0 COMMENTS

By Kyla Stott-Jess

Canadian employers that fear large jury awards in wrongful dismissal cases can breathe a little easier in the wake of a recent Alberta Court of Appeal decision. In Elgert v. Home Hardware Stores Ltd., the court of appeal said a $500,000 jury award for aggravated and punitive damages in a wrongful dismissal case was too high, reducing it to $75,000.

Background
In the spring of 2002 the Home Hardware Distribution Centre in Wetaskawin, Alberta, fired Daniel Elgert without notice. He had worked for Home Hardware 17 years and was a supervisor at the distribution center when two female coworkers made sexual harassment complaints against him. Following the complaints, Home Hardware immediately suspended Elgert and engaged in what the court of appeal described as a perfunctory investigation that presumed his guilt.

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Canadian Court Not Prepared to Act as Workplace Referee

June 28, 2010 1 COMMENTS

By Sara Parchello

Does an employer have a broad obligation to protect employees from mental distress that may be caused in the workplace? Ontario’s Court of Appeal recently answered this question in Piresferreira v. Ayotte and Bell Mobility Inc. with a resounding “no.” The decision reverses, in part, an award made back in 2008 – where an employee was awarded over half a million dollars in damages after her boss pushed her on the shoulder and verbally abused her during a workplace dispute.

Background
Piresferreira was a 60-something account manager who had worked with Bell Mobility for about 10 years. She reported to Richard Ayotte, a person known to be a “critical, demanding, loud and aggressive manager.” He was known to pound his fists on the desk, yell, and swear at his employees, and act in other intimidating ways toward employees. Piresferreira, on the other hand, was known to be a sensitive employee who didn’t take well to criticism.

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