Nuala MacDonald-Ross was awarded nearly $100,000 in a wrongful dismissal suit against Connect North America Corp. – demonstrating that it is never a good idea for an employer to manufacture cause after a dismissal.
Justice Terrence Morrison called the actions of Connect, “reprehensible and egregious”. Here are a few reasons why:
- About a month after her dismissal, MacDonald-Ross was informed that she was being let go for cause, due to unauthorized use of company funds. She explained to the court that these funds had been used to reward employees with pizza parties.
- Company owner, Barry O’Donnell, claimed that Macdonald agreed to her termination after discussing the possibility of working on a freelance basis. The only proof of this was a letter presented by the employer after the filing of the lawsuit.
- Connect filed a police report claiming MacDonald-Ross stole funds – the report was also made after she filed her lawsuit.
For Justice Morrison, this was a clear case of concocted cause. It goes without saying that the employer acted in bad faith, and should be penalized to deter future offenders. However, large punitive fines are often seen as theatrical in the courts, especially when they are appealed and substantially reduced. Whether or not Connect decides to appeal awaits to be seen.
See Don MacPherson’s article in the Daily Gleaner the more details on the case.