Inside an $800,000 wrongful dismissal award

Trying to create cause for dismissal and changing 30-year employee’s severance prompts jury to heap big penalty on employer
By Chris Forguson
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 11/14/2012

Big award from jury

On June 29, 2012, a panel of eight jurors in Prince George, B.C., handed in its verdict in the case of Larry Higginson v. Babine Forest Products Ltd. and Hampton Lumber Mills Inc., following a three-week wrongful dismissal trial. The jury awarded sawmill worker Larry Higginson compensatory damages of $236,407 and punitive damages of $572,814. At the time, the punitive damage award set a high-water mark for punitive damages flowing from a wrongful dismissal in Canada.

How did this case end up before a jury — a rare occasion in employment law cases? Why such a high damage award? Chris Forguson of Tevlin Gleadle Strategists, who represented fired worker Higginson in the trial, shares his account of the case.