Rogers Ordered to Pay Former Employee $75,000 Over Wrongful, Abusive Arrest

A former Rogers employee who was intentionally humiliated in a firing process eight years ago has received his due reward.

According to a new report from the National Post, Rogers Communications has been ordered by a Quebec judge to pay $75,000 CAD in damages to a former employee who was subject to designed humiliation in front of 100 colleagues.

Back in 2010, Joseph Nassr was forcibly apprehended by eight Montreal police officers at his desk while at work. According to the report, the arrest was described as a “show” in that the takedown was an intentionally embarrassing event. Rogers at that point alleged that Nassr, a customer service representative, used the popular buy/sell app Kijiji to sell a smartphone that he had stolen from work. Nassr was subsequently fired from Rogers.

Nassr was later acquitted in court and sued his former employer, stating that “the way he was arrested stripped him of his dignity and caused him considerable harm. Nassr had learned through a co-worker at his new job — coincidentally, the very same Rogers corporate investigator who worked his case — that Rogers had intended to make an example of him to warn other employees against fraud.

“In a Nov. 20 decision, Quebec Superior Court Justice Sylvain Lussier called Nassr’s arrest “illegal and abusive” and held Rogers liable for moral and punitive damages,” reads the report.

“While (Nassr’s) conduct may well have justified warning or disciplinary action, if confirmed, it certainly did not warrant a public display of force and humiliation worthy of a classical western movie,” Lussier wrote. “There was no need to publicly tar and feather Joseph Nassr.”

Here’s how the National Post describes the incident:

Rogers’ wish for police to arrest Nassr arose from a meeting at a Montreal restaurant on Nov. 24, 2010, at which Nassr sold a BlackBerry Torch to a private investigator the company had hired. The investigator paid Nassr $550 in cash and received the phone in a box, which he returned to Rogers.

Rogers’ corporate investigations unit, believing the phone to be company property, asked Montreal police to arrest Nassr at work to make his co-workers aware of the theft charge they were seeking. Detectives agreed, which left Rogers investigators “very excited.”

On the morning of Nov. 26, 2010, four uniformed officers and four detectives drove to Nassr’s office and handcuffed him at his desk as he ate an apple. Nassr fell on the floor as he was restrained and tumbled down the stairs as officers escorted him outside.

As police searched his condo — seizing cellphones, his girlfriend’s computer and the equivalent sum, in cash, of what he’d been paid for the BlackBerry Torch — an intoxicated inmate urinated on Nassr in a shared cell at the police station. Nassr was released that night and went home to find his front door damaged, his sofa torn open and his dog stuck in a closet.

After the incident, Nassr went into “hibernation” for two years during which he experienced panic attacks, drastic weight gain and loss, and relationship issues.

Lussier explained that Nassr’s arrest was unjustified because police officers should have served him with a summons rather than detaining in the publicly humiliating way they did. Lussier also stated that Roger’s abused its rights to inform police about a suspected crime by explicitly requesting Nassr be arrested in a “show of force.”

Rogers Communications has now been ordered to pay Nassr $45,000 CAD in moral damages and $25,000 in punitive damages, plus $5,000 over a counterclaim filed by Rogers that Lussier deemed abusive.

Rogers has since created a policy preventing police from entering its places of work to speak with employees.

“We regret how the situation unfolded eight years ago, as it does not reflect how we handle such matters and we took steps years ago to ensure this does not occur,” Rogers said in a statement.