When suing your former employer backfires
Recently, an Ontario Superior Court judge taught a frivolous plaintiff a lesson she will not soon forget, by ordering that she pay her former employer $27,454.00 in court costs.
The plaintiff, Nicole Amota, was employed for approximately 18 months as an occasional security guard with ASAP Secured Inc. In 2008 she earned $14,000.00 and in 2009 $28,000.00. In 2010, after a dispute with her direct supervisor, Amota left work. The company continued to offer her occasional work, but she ceased returning phone calls and, thereafter, the company experienced a difficult time even getting in touch with her. The company, however, was prepared to reinstate her to shifts, if she was prepared to turn up for work.
Amota, however, appeared to dismiss her former employer’s invitations and returned her security guard uniform. The company was subsequently served with a statement of claim that included claims for wrongful dismissal, constructive dismissal, breach of contract, repudiation, negligence, assault, mental distress, intentional infliction of mental distress, harassment and bad faith. She claimed general and specific damages in the amount of $100,000.00.
Clearly, Amota reasoned that the best way to achieve an economic resolution of her case was to conduct a full frontal assault upon her former employer. It appears from the case, however, that over time, and without success in settlement, Amota lost interest and eventually appeared to have abandoned her claim.
As a result, the former employer brought a motion before the court, given Amota’s failure to attend at her examination for discovery, notwithstanding that she had been ordered by a judge to do so, and having failed to attend for such discovery on two occasions, to dismiss the action. The judge hearing the motion concluded that Amota had abandoned her action and dismissed it, in turn awarding the former employer costs on a substantial indemnity basis. The motions judge stated:
The plaintiff made serious allegations against the defendant which have not been proved and she has ignored court orders and abused the process of the court. I find the defendant’s bill of costs to be fair and reasonable under the circumstances of this proceeding and I order costs payable by the plaintiff to the defendant in the amount of $27,453.92.
There is a lesson in this decision for ridiculously aggressive plaintiffs and, correspondingly, some hope for employers who are forced to endure exaggerated or unmeritorious claims. It remains to be seen whether this particular employer will pursue the costs, or indeed be able to collect.
Norman Grosman tackles your employment law dilemmas regularly on Workopolis.
More information about him and his legal services can be found on his website grosman.com