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Wong ordered to repay settlement after breach of agreement with Globe

Former Globe and Mail writer Jan Wong violated a confidentiality agreement and must repay the undisclosed amount of money she received in a settlement with The Globe after she was terminated, an arbitrator has ruled.

Ms. Wong, whose 2012 memoir Out of The Blue tells her story of her battle with depression and with The Globe, was found to have breached the terms of her 2008 agreement with the newspaper by stating in her book that she had received "a big pile of money to go away." The ruling by arbitrator Louisa Davie says the agreement between Ms. Wong and The Globe did not allow her to disclose any of its terms, and that this was "clear and unambiguous."

The Globe launched the proceedings after the book was published. Ms.Wong was represented by a lawyer for the newspaper's employees' union, after her effort to gain standing for her own lawyer in the proceeding failed before the Ontario Divisional Court.

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The Globe, which was represented by lawyer Stephen Shamie, said in a statement that it took the action on principle, and that the repayment of the settlement funds would be donated to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.

"The Globe and Mail took this action on principle to protect the confidentiality of private negotiations with both its union and its staff and to maintain a system which respects the privacy of personnel matters," the statement reads. "All personnel matters related to current and former staff must remain confidential for the sake of the employees. For that reason, The Globe has not responded to allegations made by Jan Wong and nor will it."

In an e-mail, Ms. Wong said she was "extremely disappointed" with the ruling, called the arbitration process "unfair," and said the union "refused to present all defences" against The Globe's claim. She said her lawyers were reviewing the decision to advise her of the "available courses of action."

"Unfortunately my fears with respect to the unfairness of the arbitration process in my particular case have materialized," Ms. Wong said.

Sue Andrew, the unit chairwoman for The Globe for the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 87-M, Southern Ontario Newspaper Guild, said the matter had been a "difficult process for everyone involved."

"The Guild tried to support and represent Jan throughout her lengthy fights with the Globe," Ms. Andrew said in an e-mail. "We retained Tim Gleason, one of the top labour lawyers in the country, but in the end the arbitrator found she had not honoured the terms of her agreement."

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About the Author
Toronto City Hall Reporter

Jeff Gray is The Globe and Mail’s Toronto City Hall reporter. He has worked at The Globe since 1998. From 2010 to 2016, he was the law reporter in Report on Business, covering Bay Street law firms and white-collar crime. He won an honourable mention at the National Magazine Awards for investigative journalism in 2010. More

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