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Queen's University

 Honda vs Keays

In Honda Canada Inc. c Keays , [2008], 2 S.C.R. 362. 2--8 SCC 39, the Supreme Court of Canada overturned a decision that had employers sitting nervously at the edge of their seats.  An employee of Honda Canada had been awarded, by a Court of Appeal, $100, 000 in punitive damages for discrimination - and this was a reduced penalty, down from half a million dollars ordered by a lower court. The Court of Appeal had found that the employer had discriminated against the employee with chronic fatigue syndrome by monitoring his absences in a differential way (making him get a doctor's note for each and every absence) and by insisting he submit to a medical assessment by a company medical representative he did not trust (the doctor was reputed to deal with workers with chronic fatigue syndrome by sending them back to work).  The Supreme Court determined that there had been no discrimination in this case; employers have the right to monitor absences and perform medical assessments. Even had there been discrimination,  punitive damages would have been inappropriate. Punitive damages are incompatible with human rights legislation which is remedial in nature.  It's objective is to restore the complainant to the place where he would have been but for the discrimination, not to punish the discriminator.

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