A 2013 ruling in Wilson v. Solis Mexican Foods Ltd sets a new precedent, paving the way for employees to pursue human rights claims in court where the financial outcome can be largely unpredictable and inconsistent – yet rewarding.
54-year-old Patricia Wilson had a desk job working at Solis Mexican Foods Inc. where her performance reviews were “satisfactory or better”. When Wilson revealed she was suffering from a bad back a team of senior employees at Solis met to discuss Wilson’s health. They determined that it was “time to consider that [Wilson] may not be suited to [Solis]”. Wilson had subsequently seen her doctor who, on a couple of occasions, provided Solis with medical notes stating that Wilson needed time off work but could gradually return if the company granted small accommodations. Solis refused to accept the doctor’s medical recommendations so Wilson did not return to work.
Meanwhile, Solis sold off the division that employed Wilson. The company sent her a letter stating that her role was consequently terminated.
Wilson sued Solis in the Ontario Superior Court for both wrongful dismissal and discrimination. This was the first time in Ontario’s history where a Superior Court judge decided over a human rights complaint. Wilson was awarded severance and non-taxable general damages for human rights violations.
Daniel Lublin and Ellen Low’s complete article Workplace game change, was published in the Lawyers Weekly March 7, 2014 issue and can be read here.