Workplace Investigations

Lau v Royal Bank 2015

An award of aggravated damages in the sum of $30,000 was also made by the British Columbia Supreme Court, 1 finding that the company conducted a flawed investigation as it did not interview the complaining customer. It also failed to retain the relevant video tape and other evidence and hence prevented the plaintiff from making a proper response to the allegations made against him. The plaintiff was never given the client’s statement, bank records and the confession obtained from a colleague. From the outset the court found that the Bank believed the client and that the plaintiff was a liar.

The defendant was also ordered to amend its notice to the regulator which had set out the reasons for termination. Of note, no medical evidence was called by the plaintiff, which was not required by the trial judge to support the award:

The defendants knew that RMFI[3] was required to file with the regulators the reasons for Mr. Lau’s termination. The defendants knew that the reasons would become part of the public domain. The defendants therefore needed to be careful that what they published was accurate and true.

I do not need medical evidence to prove that a false accusation of failing to tell the truth which is published can lead to mental distress.

This decision on the aggravated damages question was set aside by the B.C. Court of Appeal which, while agreeing medical evidence is not a mandatory prerequisite, nonetheless saw no evidence to support this award.

The trial decision remains relevant to show the failings in the investigative process as reviewed here.