An Ottawa woman has been ordered to pay $6,000 in damages after she accused her ex-employer of “racism” in an extended protest — including a Twitter torrent and an email campaign — against her firing, a judge has ruled.
According to a judgment from Judge Robert N. Beaudoin of Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice, the story began in March 2015 when Marlene Casimir was fired — following an unspecified incident — by l’Association pour l’intégration sociale de l’Ottawa (AISO), a Donald Street-based non-profit that provides services to francophones with developmental disabilities.
Casimir grieved her firing through her union, seeking a financial settlement. On Feb. 15, 2017, an arbitrator ruled in the employer’s favour.
Casimir did not challenge the decision, but in March, she began demonstrating in front of the agency’s Donald Street headquarters. In total, Casimir staged more than 20 two-hour protests, each time carrying placards, including one that read: “No reprisals – Racism,” the judgement says.
She also used a megaphone to repeat her allegations, again claiming “racism” and “harassment.”
In their suit, AISO claimed “employees, customers and visitors felt threatened by Ms. Casimir’s words” to the point where AISO instituted a “security protocol,” including paying $3,300 for a gateway access system and security cameras. Casimir also nailed her communiques to trees and left paper copies under the wipers of cars parked in the area.
By October 2017, she had also started sending emails to a number of unspecified recipients that included “allegations of racism (and) dishonesty” by AISO and two of its employees — Annik Méthot and Marc Richer — according to the judgment.
At about the same time, Casimir used her Twitter account to distribute a number of “abusive messages” such as “AISO is an institution of intimidation, harassment, non-compliance, retaliation, racism and injustice.”
In its suit, AISO contends it works with an “extremely vulnerable clientele” that is also affected by the attacks. Employees Méthot and Richer also contended that “any accusation that they act unfairly or are racist undermines their credibility and reputation with their colleagues and clientele.”
Judge Beaudoin states in the verdict he found the various comments made by Casimir to be defamatory.
“The facts are not disputed. Indeed, Mrs. Casimir admits having kept and written the words in question. In addition, the affidavits filed by the plaintiffs making the comments are undisputed.”
Beaudoin awarded AISO defamation damages of $2,000, and punitive damages. Richer and Méthot were each awarded defamation damages of $1,000 and punitive damages of $500.
The judge also issued an injunction ordering Casimir to withdraw defamatory comments already posted on the web and to cease making defamatory remarks about the plaintiffs.