Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Applied Consumer and Clinical Evaluations fined $266,000 for ‘campaign of abuse’ against deaf worker


Raymond Berta - rayberta@acceintl.com
A Mississauga company found to have mocked, humiliated and launched a “campaign of abuse” designed to force a deaf employee’s resignation has been ordered by Ontario’s top court to pay her $266,000.

The stinging Ontario Court of Appeal decision amplified the original damages awarded to Vicky Strudwick by more than $100,000. The result comes after four years of legal proceedings against her former employer, Applied Consumer and Clinical Evaluations (ACCE) info@acceintl.com

Less than a year after she suddenly became deaf, a condition doctors believe was caused by a virus, the 56-year-old was fired from the polling and research firm in May 2011. By that time, she had worked there for more than 15 years and was making $12.85 per hour in her latest position.

Andrew Hoffman
After she lost her hearing, she requested accommodation, including: having the Canadian Hearing Society attend the workplace to determine what accommodations were necessary; bringing a support dog to the workplace (the owner who is not disabled often brought his dogs to the office); reversing the direction of her desk so she could see people entering the office or approaching; the purchase and use of TTY equipment or the installation of a voice carry-over telephone (which she offered to purchase herself); and the installation of a visual fire alarm at her desk (which she also offered to purchase). All of these requests were refused.

Vicky Strudwick

Leading up to her dismissal she “was belittled, isolated, humiliated and made to suffer the effects of her disability to the greatest extent possible,” the three-judge panel wrote. “This conduct was deliberate, malicious and designed to force Ms. Strudwick to quit a job she had held for almost 16 years.”

Andrew Hoffman, an ACCE general manager at the time, was named in the decision as “the primary participant” in Strudwick’s workplace harassment. Also named was Strudwick’s immediate supervisor, Liz Camilleri, who “featured prominently in (her) despicable treatment”

The company did not pay Strudwick for work performed until Labour Community Services of Peel Region intervened. Her employment insurance was delayed as a result of the manner in which her record of employment was completed.

Liz Camilleri - lizc@acceintl.com