[CP] The Supreme Court of Canada has wiped out a $500,000 punitive damages award against Honda of Canada in what had been a landmark wrongful-dismissal suit.
The award had been the biggest ever handed down in Canadian employment law history. But the justices said the award was a mistake.
In a 7-2 decision, justices said lower courts were wrong in awarding punitive damages to Kevin Keays, a chronic fatigue syndrome sufferer who was fired by Honda in 2000.
Justice Michel Bastarache said the original trial judge made “palpable and overriding errors” about the company’s behaviour. He said the judge found that Honda acted “in bad faith” in firing Keays.
“There was, in my opinion, no such breach and no justification for an award of damages for conduct in dismissal.”
He said Honda’s conduct, overall, “was not sufficiently egregious or outrageous to warrant an award of punitive damages.”
Keays also won two years back pay from the company at trial.
The Ontario Court of Appeal agreed he had been wrongfully dismissed, but reduced the punitive damages award to $100,000.
The Supreme Court erased the damage award entirely and reduced the back pay portion to 15 months salary.