Butler-Lynch v. Dr. Roz’s Healing Place
In this matter Ken successfully represented the plaintiff, Ms. Butler-Lynch in her wrongful dismissal claim against her former employer. She had worked for her former employer, Dr. Roz’ Healing Place, a shelter, as a part-time or full-time counsellor for seven years. She was also good friends with the Executive Director, Dr. Roz Roach.
Ms. Butler-Lynch had taken a year off, and on her return in October of 2005, she started having differences with her team leader, Gemma Gilkes. They clashed on several occasions over different issues which eventually led to a letter being prepared warning the plaintiff about her alleged insubordination. The letter was dated July 12, 2006, but was not signed until August 28, 2006 and was not delivered to Ms. Butler-Lynch until September 1, 2006, the day that she was terminated.
The employer had also made several other complaints (including accusations of racism) with respect to Ms. Butler-Lynch (some of these were made in Court), which Honorable Justice Klowak classified as an “over-reaching attempt by Defence to bolster its case by dredging up anything from the past with respect to the Plaintiff that they could now think of and try to use.”
In the months before she was terminated, Ms. Butler-Lynch’s relationship with Ms. Gilkes continued to deteriorate. Eventually, at 8:45pm on September 1, 2006 she was given a package containing the letter terminating her employment:
“67 At 8:45pm she opened the shelter door to a taxi driver who gave her a package containing the letter terminating her employment forthwith. She says she was shocked and she says she was not even aware that there was a case opened relating to her.”
The termination letter referred to an incident that had allegedly occurred during an earlier mediation on August 8, 2006 between Ms. Butler-Lynch and Ms. Gilkes:
“79 The letter terminating Ms. Butler-Lynch states in the first paragraph as follows: “We have carefully reviewed the complaint brought forward by Gemma Gilkes regarding comments allegedly made by you at Dr. Roz’s Healing Place on August 8, 2006 during the course of a mediation session between you and Gemma Gilkes. The allegation was one of racism.”
Justice Klowak considered the evidence and concluded that Ms. Butler-Lynch “did excellent work at the shelter for some six years with no sustainable suggestion of racism or racist remarks.”
The manner of in which Ms. Butlet-Lynch was dismissed was considered next and Justice Klowak ruled as follows:
“128 In all, the method of termination was thoughtless, ill-conceived, ill-planned and ill-executed with little, if any, thought to the possible foreseeable consequences upon the Plaintiff and upon the residents of the shelter.
129 Added to that, none of the key players apparently even considered making themselves available to be contacted in case a problem should arise. As I have already mentioned several times, the Plaintiff had to spend two plus hours in a state of stress, shock and confusion trying to look after the residents of the shelter on her own as well as trying to get help even though she was terminated immediately.
130 She ended up having to seek psychological counselling at the recommendation of her family doctor and at some expense
Originally, Ms. Butler-Lynch would have been awarded six months of pay in lieu of notice, however, given the manner in which was dismissed, her pay in lieu of notice was increased from six months to eight months:
“135 Although I have some discretion in extending the notice period I must also exercise that discretion fairly and evenhandedly and in the fashion I have just described. In all the circumstance I am of the view that it would be appropriate in this case to extend the notice period by two more months resulting in a total period of eight months and a total judgment in the amount that I have already mentioned, of $21,296.22 plus a further $6,732.00 in regard to the extension of the notice period for a final judgment in the amount of $28,028.22.”
Justice Klowak also considered the costs the plaintiff was entitled to receive as a result of winning the case and concluded that the Defendant should pay her “$30,000.00 plus applicable G.S.T. for fees, disbursements of $9,547.12 plus G.S.T. of 572.83 plus pre-judgment interest from November 1, 2006 at 2.7% and post-judgment interest rate as set out in the Court’s of Justice Act.”
Additionally, Justice Klowak had the following praise for the counsel in this matter:
“You both did a very good job of representing your respective clients. It’s what each of your clients, I would think would expect of counsel and you certainly, as I say, did a good job in representing your clients and I do mean both of you. It’s often very difficult in matters like this but the two of you acted in a very competent and professional manner in dealing with each other and in assisting this court and before I left I just wanted to thank the both of you.”
This case is a good example of how the relationship an employee has with a supervisor can lead to the deterioration of the entire employment relationship. The trouble between Ms. Butler-Lynch and Ms. Gilkes escalated over time. Ms. Butler-Lynch ended up being fired in an egregious manner which led to the Court deciding to extend the notice period she was entitled to as a result of being wrongfully dismissed.
Butler-Lynch v. Dr. Roz’s Healing Place, 2007 CarswellOnt 8582
Butler-Lynch v. Dr. Roz’s Healing Place, 2007 CarswellOnt 8653