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Wal-Mart ordered to pay dismissed employee $750,000

A senior Wal-Mart manager was awarded $750,000 because she was terminated without cause after 10 months of effectively being "benched".

The case in question is Galea v. Wal-Mart (2017 ONSC 245). Ms. Galea was hired as a District Manager and eventually was promoted to Vice-President, General Merchandise. She received positive performance reviews but in early 2010, she was removed from her role as VP, General Merchandise because of corporate restructuring. Wal-Mart told her they did not know what to do with her but she was "valued by the company."

For the next ten months, Galea tried to locate another role within Wal-Mart and was given vague leads. During this time, she learned that her most recent performance review was altered from a promotion to a non-promotion rating. Finally, in November 2010, she was given formal notice that she was terminated.

The judge in this case was highly critical of Wal-Mart's conduct during the final months of Galea's employment. Justice Emery said Wal-Mart's conduct was misleading at best and dishonest at worst. The judge awarded Galea $250,000 in moral damages for Wal-Mart's conduct towards Galea before and after she was let go, and another $500,000 as punitive damages.

This is the largest award for moral damages in employment law in Canada and one of the largest amounts of punitive damages.

What does this mean for dismissed employees?

If your employment was terminated, you may be entitled to a substantial amount of money. Contact J.F. Lalonde, wrongful dismissal lawyer at Vice & Hunter LLP, and we can assist you.

To reach the authors of this blog, J.F. Lalonde and Marie Kwan, call 613.701.0898.

J.F. Lalonde is an Ottawa, Ontario employment lawyer and wrongful dismissal lawyer practicing with Vice & Hunter LLP. He has extensive experience with wrongful dismissals and everything related to employment law. He helps employers and employees. JF is also a part-time professor at La Cité Collégiale teaching Employment Law for Paralegals.

Marie Kwan is an articling student with Vice & Hunter LLP. She has experience assisting in employment law matters and competed in a labour law moot while in law school.

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