The Range of Moral Damage Awards
The average range for moral damage awards in Canada is in the $20,000 to $40,000 range. Lower awards have been made.
Prior to 2014, the largest moral damage award was the $75,000 award in Zesta Engineering Ltd. v. Cloutier1. That was surpassed in 2014 when the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a jury award of $200,000 for moral damages against Wal-Mart in Boucher v. Wal-Mart Canada Corp.2 Laskin J.A. describe the harassment suffered by the plaintiff at paragraph 72:
Wal-Mart took no steps to bring an end to Pinnock’s misconduct. It did not take Boucher’s complaints seriously, finding them unsubstantiated despite substantial evidence from co-workers that they were well-founded. It failed to enforce its workplace policies, which on their face were designed to protect employees from the kind of treatment Pinnock subjected Boucher to. And it threatened Boucher with retaliation for making her complaints, an especially vindictive act. Despite all of this Boucher was willing to continue to work at the store if Wal-Mart addressed her complaints about Pinnock. Only when Wal-Mart refused to do so, did Boucher resign. These considerations show that Wal-Mart’s own conduct justified a separate and substantial award for aggravated damages.
In the 2015 decision Karmel v Calgary Jewish Academy3 the plaintiff was awarded $200,000 in moral damages for damage done to his reputation and mental health as a result of the defendant’s “insidious” actions. The judge wrote at para. 90:
The evidence of Ms. Karmel was that Mr. Karmel suffered considerably before, during and after his sudden termination mid-year. Rumors were rampant surrounding his firing. He felt isolated. He and his family felt socially uncomfortable in their otherwise tight knit community. Although Mr. Karmel diligently sought similar employment, he met with no success. Eventually he retrained and became a licensed private investigator.