The following is copied with permission from Lauren Bernardi, Lawyer, Human Resource Advisor at Bernardi Stewart Scholz.

In Clark v. Canada (ll) the plaintiff, an RCMP officer, sued for negligent and intentional infliction of nervous shock. She had been harassed by her male colleagues and suffered a mental crisis as a result. Her superiors failed to come to her assistance.

In reviewing Clark's claim for negligence the court said:

I am satisfied that the evidence also established negligence that engages the Brown's vicarious liability. In my view there is no doubt that as the plaintiff's immediate supervisor, Cpl. Mazur owed the plaintiff a duty of care and breached that duty consistently. I find that over a lengthy period, he deliberately refused to exercise his authority to put an end to the conduct of harassment of which he was well aware and which he in fact participated in on occasion, thus condoning that behaviour. He further neglected utterly to respond to the plaintiff's distress signals, as his position of responsibility required him to do. And, as mentioned earlier, superior RCMP officers failed to come to the plaintiff's assistance.

In my view the circumstances of this case present no issue of remoteness or foreseeability. Cpl. Mazur was not an unconcerned bystander without authority to exert control over the behaviour of his subordinate: his negligence played a direct causative role in the damage suffered by the plaintiff, and he was clearly acting in the course of his employment. (Emphasis added.)

The court awarded Clark $88,000 in special damages for lost earnings and $5,000 in general damages for nervous shock.

11(1994),20 C.C.E.L. (2d) 172 (Fed. Ct.)

Read the entire Bullying in the Workplace article.

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