October 13, 2016

A series of ground-breaking remedial awards have been released in human rights cases across Canada this year. In this session, experts will highlight emerging trends expanding the range of remedies and quantum of damages awarded to victims of harassment and discrimination. Our panelists will also offer advice on avoiding the behaviour that leads to hard hitting damages awards.

  • Damages for injury to dignity: What are the key recent decisions in which higher-than-usual damages for injury to dignity have been awarded? Are there any common features present in these cases – either in terms of the type of conduct sanctioned, or the harms suffered by the individuals compensated – that may shed light on the damages awarded? What role, if any, does the failure to investigate employees’ concerns play in cases where hard hitting damages are awarded? What about a failure to maintain a psychologically or physically safe workplace?
  • Lost wages and future income: What trends are evident in recent tribunal, arbitral and court decisions awarding compensation for loss of employment, future income, and benefits? How are such damages likely to be calculated?
  • Aggravated and punitive damages: Are aggravated and/or punitive damages awards on the rise as an arbitral and/or judicial remedy for human rights violations? What about damages for mental distress? Which recent cases have awarded these remedies?
  • Reinstatement: Will the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision in Fair v. Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, upholding a tribunal decision to reinstate an employee nine years after termination, signal a new trend towards reinstatement at human rights tribunals? Why is reinstatement far more common in arbitration than in human rights tribunal or court proceedings?
  • Breach of Settlement Agreement: What are the consequences of breaching a settlement agreement that includes monetary compensation? In what circumstances will an employee be required to pay money back if she or he breaches a term of a settlement? If an employer breaches a term of a settlement, is the employee entitled to receive additional damages?
  • Lessons for the future: What lessons emerge from recent awards? What conduct should employers avoid in order to avoid becoming the subject of a hard hitting damages award? What proactive steps or policies should be put in place to prevent the behaviour that leads to hard hitting awards?