03/18/2016 04:02 EDT | Updated 03/21/2016 10:59 EDT

Esther Brake, McDonald's Manager Who Worked 12-Hour Days, Wins Big In Court


A former manager at an Ottawa-area McDonald’s was awarded $104,499 in a wrongful dismissal suit on Monday. Esther Brake, who worked for the company since 1986, “was set up to fail,” Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice found.

Brake earned raving performance reviews for years. She was “dumbfounded” when she received her first negative review in 2011, and was transferred to a new location — one of the company’s lowest-ranked in Canada. She consistently worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, according to court documents. And she never asked for overtime pay.

In 2012, Brake was blamed for the location’s poor performance and put on the McDonald’s discipline program. Despite actually meeting the program’s targets, Brake was told she had failed and could take a demotion or leave.

“There was far more right about her performance than wrong with it.”

With the demotion, Brake would lose her benefits and have to report to much younger, less experienced employees — some of whom she’d trained herself. Even the store’s owner said in court that Brake was “entitled to be embarrassed by the demotion.”

She said "no" and left her job. Brake has not been able to find a management job with another company since, the documents say.

“There was far more right about her performance than wrong with it,” the judge ruled. “Indeed, Esther Brake is most impressive; a single mother who devoted herself to the advancement of the Defendant’s interests for many years with considerable success.”