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Digest of the Week | Punitive Damages

Employee awarded $500,000 punitive damages for breach of employment contract, and $250,000 for moral damages; Employer decided to dismiss or denigrate employee to point of resignation


Galea v. Wal-Mart Canada Corp. | 2017 ONSC 245 | Ontario Superior Court of Justice


Labour and employment law --- Employment law — Termination and dismissal — Remedies — Damages — Aggravated, punitive or exemplary damages


G was hired by W Corp. in 2002 and was steadily promoted up to Vice-President — W eliminated G's position — G offered position which was risky and under superior who did not want her — W terminated G's employment — G had signed two-year non-competition agreement (NCA) which provided for base salary, benefits and incentives during period of NCA — W only paid 11.5 months' salary under NCA and terminated all G's benefits and incentive plans — G brought action for damages for breach of employment contract — Action allowed — NCA was employment contract that G to transition payments for fixed term of two years, provided she complied with her obligations under it — Representations made to G which amounted to good faith promise which was never kept — W breached implied duty of good faith to G between January 29 and November 19, 2010 causing mental distress — Clear from evidence that decision made by January 29 to dismiss or denigrate G to point where she might resign — Litigation purposeful delay or indifference caused G mental distress exceeding that normal for dismissal — G awarded $200,000 moral damages plus further $50,000 for post-termination conduct — $500,000 was appropriate amount for punitive damages.
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