TORONTO, July 23, 2019 /CNW/ - An Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled that when companies are alleged to have violated human rights and when employee whistleblowers call attention to discriminatory policies and practices, public interest trumps the interests of private corporations. In dismissing the lawsuit for defamation Justice Kimmel stated "I am troubled by the cavalier attitude that Allstate has adopted in relation to this cause of action."
Ms. Joshi was terminated by Allstate Canada on October 9, 2018, for allegedly exposing discriminatory sales practices by speaking to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Ms. Joshi says she learned of unwritten rules at Allstate to make selling car insurance policies drivers who live in Brampton, Ontario, more difficult than in other Toronto neighbourhoods, thereby she alleged violating the "all-comers" rule set by the insurance regulator.
Toronto employment lawyer Andrew Monkhouse is representing Medha Joshi, 38, an Allstate manager previously based in Milton, Ontario, who is suing her former employer, Allstate Insurance Company of Canada, for $600,000 in a wrongful dismissal suit she launched on November 30, 2018.
Allstate Canada launched a counterclaim against Ms. Joshi for $700,000, plus legal costs, for what they claimed were "damages to Allstate's reputation and goodwill." It was this counter-suit which was dismissed by Madam Justice Kimmel, in her decision dated July 22, 2019.
Ms. Joshi's lawsuit against Allstate can now proceed unimpeded by the counterclaim.
In her decision on Joshi v Allstate, Madam Justice Kimmel wrote that "qualified privilege" means that "…Ms. Joshi had a legal, social or moral duty" and that Ms. Joshi "…felt compelled to speak about what I have concluded is a matter of public interest. She would be one among a relatively small group of people who has knowledge, information and belief about the particular Allstate policy or practice in question."
"First, this decision expands whistleblower protections in the private sector, especially when it comes to human rights abuses in the public interest," said Andrew Monkhouse.
"Second, it affirms that corporations cannot intimidate employees who have spoken out about wrong-doing by using outrageous counter-claims," said Monkhouse.
"Third, reporters, editors, TV and radio producers, and other journalists, may quote directly from a plaintiff's statement of claim, critical to Canada's open court system," said Monkhouse.
This decision is one of the first under the new anti-SLAPP legislation [Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP), also known as a gag proceeding.)].
Monkhouse Law is a Toronto employment law firm that specializes in: wrongful dismissal, human rights law, labour law, employee class actions, employment insurance claims, and denied long-term disability claims.
SOURCE Monkhouse Law
For further information: Andrew Monkhouse, Monkhouse Law Barristers & Solicitors, [email protected], (416) 907-9249 x 225