Act First Safety

Ontario Government Increasingly Proactive on Workplace Bullying As New Cases Emerge

A recent news story has focused Canadians’ attention on the important topic of bullying in the workplace. The story involves Meredith Boucher, an employee of Wal-Mart Canada in Windsor, Ontario.
Ms. Boucher, a resident of Chatham, Ontario was awarded the sum of $1.46million in compensation for the bullying she received from her former manager at the Windsor Wal-Mart store. She had filed a lawsuit against the company as well as her former manager which highlighted the mental abuse she had been subjected to at the hands of her manager at the time.
According to the language within the lawsuit, the manager had belittled Ms. Boucher and demeaned her job performance in front of other employees. The jury in the case also heard that Ms. Boucher had actually spoken in front of a committee of three senior Wal-Mart managers, who had advised her that the complaints did not warrant further consideration. The jury did not agree.
In commenting on the large compensation received in this case, when compared with other cases of its kind in the country, Ms. Boucher’s lawyers commented:
“The compensation was awarded due to the level of abuse that Ms. Boucher endured.”
Shulgan Martini Marusic LLP
News of this lawsuit and the compensation awarded to the victim in this instance should carry forward to companies across Canada. This is the highest such award in Canadian history and it will put companies on notice that they must begin creating policies that are proactive on bullying.
While Wal-Mart has appealed the award and says that the compensation was “shocking and unreasonable”, there is little doubt that companies are going to be more responsive to claims of workplace bullying as a result of the media attention that this case has received. It’s imperative that Canadian workers are given more tools to respond to workplace bullying issues in order to assure a workplace environment that promotes communication and employee security.

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