Former Walmart executive awarded $750,000 in extraordinary damages

Retail giant’s bad faith in removing executive and keeping her in limbo before terminating her warrants large award on top of salary and bonus damages
By Rich Appiah
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 01/31/2018

In a recent decision that opens the range of extraordinary damages available to dismissed employees, an Ontario executive was awarded $750,000 in moral and punitive damages arising from her employer’s decision to unnecessarily prolong her dismissal, and form her employer’s post-termination conduct — one of the largest such damage awards ever given in Canadian employment law. Employment lawyer Rich Appiah discusses how this decision continues a trend for courts to compensate for the power imbalance between employers and emlpoyees when an employee is treated poorly both before and in the course of termination.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has awarded a former Walmart executive $750,000 in moral and punitive damages plus more than $400,000 in wrongful dismissal damages despite narrow contractual severance terms to which she agreed after the retailer marginalized and then fired her.

Gail Galea started working for Walmart Canada in September 2002 as a management trainee. In 2005, she was appointed General Merchandise Manager (GMM), reporting to a senior vice-president. In 2008, she was promoted to Vice-President, General Merchandising. She was repeatedly selected for exclusive executive development programs and expected eventually to be appointed Chief Merchandising Officer. Walmart leadership suggested that she might one day run a country division.