- In Karmel v Calgary Jewish Academy ( 2015 ABQB 731 ) MacLeod J of the Court of Queens Bench awarded a school principal the sum of $200,000 in aggravated or bad faith damages for the manner in which the plaintiff was terminated. Essentially the Principal and the Chairman of the Board of Directors had a fundamentally different approach to the Principal’s role. The Chairman felt that he was the CEO and the Principal was his employee. The Principal saw himself as the professional educator reporting to the entire Board which consisted of volunteers who were members of the Calgary Jewish community. The Chairman grew to despise the Principal and led a campaign to get him fired. The Court found that the allegation of just cause had no merit. The process of building a case against the Principal and convincing the Board to fire the Principal was found to be done in bad faith.
As the plaintiff was terminated part way through a 5 year fixed term contract, he also received the sum of $669,998 representing the balance owing until the end of the term.
After deciding that the conduct of the Defendant were ” particularly insidious” and ” sufficiently egregious as to warrant punitive damages” the Judge then went on to decline to award punitive damages because ” I do not believe that he ( being the Plaintiff) would wish to punish the Calgary Jewish Academy with further punitive damages”
This last note is rather odd. The plaintiff requested punitive damages. The Judge thought that they were warranted. However then the Judge assumed that the Plaintiff really did not want the damages. Surely the better analysis would be to award the damages and if the Plaintiff choose not to collect them, that is his choice, not that of the judge. At the very least the Plaintiff should get a charitable tax receipt for the sum of the punitive damages that he should have got. In fact, had he been awarded say $100,000 for punitive damages that would have been received on a tax free basis. He then could have made a charitable donation to the school of say, $100,000, resulting in a significant tax credit which he could have used to offset the taxes owing on his wrongful dismissal damages of $669,998.