Former employee of Toronto Star claims racism, sues for $2M

By Lincoln DePradine

Adesimbo Adejuyigbe

A former employee of Torstar Corporation, publishers of The Toronto Star, is suing the company for more than $2 million, claiming she’s been “a victim of anti-Black racism” and faced a “collage of wanton, reckless and reprehensible conduct’’ at the workplace.

Nigerian-Canadian Adesimbo Adejuyigbe, through her lawyer Osborne G. Barnwell, filed her claim electronically on June 2 in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Apart from Torstar Corporation, the suit also names specific senior staff such as John Boynton and Jennifer Barber.

Adejuyigbe, an accountant and a chartered financial analyst, was hired by Torstar in 2005 as a manager of internal audit.

“She was a rising star who, in 2008, was nominated into the inaugural two-year Torstar ‘Accelerated Learners’ program designed to develop future leaders,’’ according to Barnwell.

Adejuyigbe complains that in 2012, her “life changed with the advent’’ of Barber, alleging that Barber “trivialized, minimized, excluded and denigrated her because of her race’’.

According to Adejuyigbe, she endured five years of trauma “under the anti-Black racist conduct’’ of Barber, while company superiors stood “idly by and did nothing’’.

Then, in May 2017, Adejuyigbe was fired from her job with Torstar. She alleges that she was “surreptitiously dismissed without cause’’.

In addition, said Adejuyigbe, she was “escorted out of the building’’ and was “horrified by the humiliation of being treated like a criminal on the day of her termination’’.

Shortly after her dismissal, Adejuyigbe was offered a package and executed a general release. It indemnified Torstar from all liability beyond that which she was paid in the package from Torstar.

In the period after she was let go by Torstar, Adejuyigbe said she “experienced significant mental health issues’’ and “continuously reminisced about what had happened’’ to her at her former place of employment.

As well, she said, from 2017 to 2020, she was “unable to find comparable work’’, obtaining only “short-term contracts but nothing substantive’’.

Adejuyigbe’s lawsuit, among other things, alleges “breach of promise in contract’’ and “fraudulent misrepresentation’’.  She is seeking $2 million in punitive damages. Adejuyigbe also wants an award of approximately $850,000 in other damages.

None of the allegations against Torstar has been proven in court.

Torstar, which previously had received a letter from Adejuyigbe requesting compensation for the “victimization’’ and “trauma’’ suffered as a company employee, rejected the payment request.