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Digest of the Week | Constructive Dismissal

Court finds plaintiff, an employee of 22 years, was constructively dismissed after employer behaved aggressively and spoke rudely to her during a meeting

Sweeting v. Mok
2015 CarswellOnt 18913, 2015 ONSC 4154, 261 A.C.W.S. (3d) 349, 27 C.C.E.L. (4th) 161
Ontario Superior Court of Justice

Labour and employment law --- Employment law — Termination and dismissal — Termination of employment by employer — Constructive dismissal — Miscellaneous

Plaintiff was 52-year-old registered practical nurse who worked for defendant for over 22 years as practice assistant and office manager — Defendant was medical doctor who specialized in plastic surgery — Secretary stopped working in office, and plaintiff's workload increased as result — Defendant's wife, who was also nurse, started working two days per week in office to help with workload — During meeting between defendant, defendant's wife and plaintiff, dispute arose about electronic medical record system that defendant wanted to implement in office — Due to workload, plaintiff expressed not having time to take on new system — Throughout meeting, defendant was angry, used explicit language, pointed his finger, and plaintiff alleged that defendant said: "Go! Get out! I am so sick of coming into this office every day and looking at your ugly face" — Plaintiff left and did not return — Plaintiff brought action for damages for constructive dismissal — Action allowed — Defendant shouted, behaviour was aggressive and language was hostile — Defendant's conduct had effect of diminishing plaintiff's stature and dignity in office and when he saw impact it had on her, he did nothing — In context of particular work environment, that treatment made future performance of her work impossible, her continued employment intolerable and plaintiff was entitled to treat employment relationship as constructively terminated.
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