Honda faces stiff penalty

Court orders Honda to pay $500,000 in punitive damages to worker who suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome

The Supreme Court of Canada once said it takes a ‘large whack’ to wake up a wealthy and powerful defendant to its responsibilities.

Honda Canada Inc. now knows what that ‘large whack’ feels like after the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ordered it to pay $500,000 in punitive damages — reportedly the stiffest penalty in an employment case in Canadian history — to one of its former employees.

Justice John McIsaac of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice didn’t pull any punches in harshly criticizing the auto maker’s treatment of a long-term employee who was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

He said workers disabled by invisible impairments such as chronic pain and chronic fatigue face numerous problems in the workplace.

“Just because (the employee) did not carry a white cane, use a hearing aid or get around in a wheelchair, did not make him any less deserving of workplace recognition of his debilitating condition,’ he said. Honda has said it plans to appeal the decision.

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