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Employer Beware: Punitive Damages

By Michael Winterstein

In a recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court in Gordon v. Altus Group Limited, $100,000.00 in punitive damages were awarded to the plaintiff employee as a result of the employer’s conduct which was held to be outrageous for the following reasons:

  • The employer was “mean and cheap” in trying to get rid of the employee as they approached arbitration for the determination of an adjustment in the Asset  Purchase Agreement price;
  • Despite a contractual agreement otherwise, the employer raised an unfounded allegation of cause; and
  • The employer insisted the employee abide by the non-compete provisions in the Agreement despite its contrary position regarding the contract terms as outlined above.
Summary of Case Finding

This case should be fair warning to employers not to make baseless allegations of cause for purposes of supporting their position as they will be viewed unfavourably by the court and can result in awards of punitive damages to the degree awarded in this case.

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Tags: Executive Employment Law and Litigation Employment Law and Litigation