Legal News

$85,000 in Punitive and Aggravated Damages Awarded to Dismissed Employee

The BC Supreme Court recently awarded an employee $35,000 in aggravated damages, $50,000 in punitive damages, plus 18 months’ severance pay after she was dismissed without notice.

The plaintiff, a 49-year old manager, had an unblemished record in 30 years of service. Her employment was terminated after another employee made a formal complaint about her management style and conduct in the workplace. The Court found that the employer’s investigation of the complaint was unfair because the manager was not given an opportunity to address the allegations against her. The Court commented that the termination “could not have been handled in a more insensitive manner.” The Court was also troubled by the employer’s offer to give Vernon a reference letter in exchange for her resignation.

After concluding that the employer did not have cause to terminate Vernon, the Court awarded aggravated damages for the manner in which Vernon was dismissed; punitive damages for offering to provide the reference letter in exchange for the resignation; and 18 months’ severance pay for dismissal without notice. Although the manager had sought 18 to 22 months’ notice, she was limited to 18 months by the Employment Termination Standards Regulation under the Public Sector Employers Act.

Vernon v. British Columbia (Liquor Distribution Branch), 2012 BCSC 133