Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Punitive Damages Sought Against Future Shop/Best Buy

A top-performing General Manager was a model employee until on or about November 9th, 2006 when he was summarily dismissed from his position at Best Buy Canada Limited's (a.k.a Future Shop) flagship store in Newmarket, Ontario. His statement of claim issued in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against the defendant asserts that he was "summarily and in bad faith terminated...under a cloud of false allegations of sexually harassing three female employees and allegedly failing to abide by the company's policy on this subject matter."

The former employee's claim against Best Buy asserts a significant legal point, namely, an employer's duty in negligence to investigate when dealing with sexual harassment allegations pursuant to their own policies and their potential liability for punitive damages for such failure to act.


The statement of claim states, "The Plaintiff pleads that the defendant employer owed him a duty of care in the circumstances to carry out a fair, thorough and impartial investigation of the allegations against him before condemning him and summarily dismissing on the grounds which they alleged, namely, sexual harassment and breach of the company policy and trust."

In essence the Plaintiff is asserting that since Future Shop/Best Buy had a policy on sexual harassment that prohibited such conduct in the work place along with a corresponding potential penalty of dimissal that they had a duty in negligence to conduct a fair, thorough and impartial investigation and failed to do so.

Breach of Duty:

The former General Manager's statement of claim "asserts that the defendant breached the duty of care owed to him by virtue of the following acts and omissions:

1. Failed to articulate or implement a policy or directive on the
conduct of the investigation of sexual harassment allegations
in their work place;
2. Failed to provide adequate training for its workers whe are
responsible for the implementation of the policy;
3. Failed to establish or implement criteria to test credibility
and reliability of interview results;
4. Failed to record investigation interviews;
5. Failed to take statements under oath or penalty of perjury;
6. Failed to follow the principle of natural justice in their
7. Failed to follow and live up to its own written policies.

Punitive Damages:

In support of his claim for punitive damages the plaintiff asserts in his statement of claim that Best Buy lacked "a fair and impartial mode of investigation to ascertain reliability or truthfulness of alleged violations" and made "a conscious and deliberate decision that it was more efficient to simply dismiss individuals accused of breach of their policy than to provide a mechanism for a fair and impartial investigain of the allegations".


"Future Shop denies the allegations in paragraphs 6 and 7 of the Statement of Claim that it failed to carry out a thorough, fair and impartial investigation into the sexual harassment allegations brought against the Plaintiff."

"Best Buy denies that the Plaintiff is entitled to punitive and or aggravated damages and submits that this claim is without foundation."


The claims advanced by the former employee and the defences asserted by the defendant have yet to be adjudged by a court. It is anticipated that the matter will be tried in the Ontaro Superior Court Justice on October 8th, 2012 in Toronto.

Witnesses sought:

I wish to speak to individuals having specific knowledge on the following points in preparation for the upcoming trial:

1.  Former District Manager, Mr. John Amendola and former human resources manager, Ms. Olga Afinec conducted the sexual harassment investigation which led to the Plaintiff's dismissal.  Anyone having any information of their whereabouts is asked to contact me as soon as possible or have them contact me;

2.  Mr. Fadi Azziz is said to have communicated the complaint to managment.  Anyone having any information of his whereabout is asked to contact me as soon as possible or have him contact me;

3. Anyone who worked at Future Shop (Newmarket)in an around November,2006
and has personal knowledge of the harassment allegations and dismissal; and

4. Anyone who has been dismissed in similar circumstances to the Plaintiff by Future Shop/Best Buy and denied payment of entitlement under their Share-Ownership Plan.

*Note: The claim in question involves Court File No.CV-10-003944690000
Persons with information are invited to contact Ernest J. Guiste at (416) 364-8908 or by e mail - ejguiste.rightslawyer@gmail.com.