This week an Ontario jury ordered Walmart to pay nearly $1.5 million dollars to a former Windsor, Ontario-store employee who claimed that she was subjected to profane and insulting mental abuse over six-month period by her 32-year old store manager.
According to reports from The Windsor Star:
[Counsel for the plaintiff Meredith Boucher, Myron] Shulgan argued his client was subject to sexual harassment and discrimination, intentional infliction of mental suffering, and — at the hands of an assistant manager who punched her in the arm two days in a row and was subsequently fired — assault.
The jury of three men and three women, who decided that Boucher was constructively dismissed… awarded her: from Walmart, $200,000 for intentional infliction of mental suffering, $1 million for punitive damages, and $10,000 for assault; and from [her manager] Pinnock, $100,000 for intentional infliction of mental suffering, and $150,000 for punitive damages. She received nothing for alleged sexual harassment and discrimination.
With respect the verdict itself, reports have it that the jury deliberated for less than two hours following the two and half week trial; considerably less than the presiding justice, the Honourable Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerance, provided instructions.
Because the case was decided by a jury no reasons for the decision were provided. Similarly few facts, as found by the court, are yet known.
Where does this decision leave those in the employment law world? I suspect waiting for the decision of the Court of Appeal.
As always, everyone’s situation is different. The above is not intended to be legal advice for any particular situation and it is always prudent to seek professional legal advice before taking any decisions on one’s own case.
Sean Bawden is an Ottawa, Ontario employment lawyer and wrongful dismissal lawyer. He tweets from @SeanBawden.