30-year employee fired after getting cancer (Legal view)

Court awards two years’ salary, $55,000 to show ‘repugnance’ with conduct
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 04/25/2011

An Ontario employer has been ordered to pay nearly two years’ salary plus $55,000 in additional damages to a long-term employee who was fired after she reduced her hours and took medical leave for cancer treatment.

Shelley Altman, 59, first joined Montreal-based musical instrument retailer Steve’s Music Store in 1978. At the time, her husband was the assistant manager at a Steve’s in Toronto and she helped out by doing unpaid work. She soon worked the front counter and advanced through various positions, becoming store manager in 1998.

Steve’s was a family-run business and Altman was close to many of the family members. She often worked from home on her days off and was rarely out of contact with the store. She represented Steve’s on an advisory board for the Music Industries Association of Canada and was well-known in the industry.