Alberta Court of Appeal helps employers ring in the New Year in Style(s)

January 15, 2017 - by: Kyla Stott-Jess 0 COMMENTS

by Kyla Stott-Jess

The Alberta Court of Appeal has released its first decision of 2017Styles v. Alberta Investment Management Corporation, 2017 ABCA 1and it is undoubtedly welcome news (and a nice gift) to employers.

The issue of whether or not a dismissed employee is entitled to bonus compensation during the period of reasonable notice has been a hot topic as of late. In Styles, the Alberta Court of Appeal weighed in and concluded that (1) in the event of a without-cause termination, an employer is not obligated to provide the employee with reasons for the termination; and (2) employees are not entitled to bonus payouts where they have not met the contractual preconditions. Suffice it to say, Styles looks to be ringing in a better 2017 for employers.

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Duty to disclose medical condition in pre-employment questionnaire

January 08, 2017 - by: Simon Laberge 0 COMMENTS

by Simon Laberge

This article discusses questioning employees about essential functions when hiring in Canada.

Trust is a fundamental element in the relationship between an employer and an employee. That relationship of trust can be breached in various ways during the course of employment including during the hiring process when an employer questions candidates to determine if they are capable of performing the essential duties of the position they are seeking.

The courts have often been asked to rule about the consequences of misrepresentation by a candidate during the hiring process. In fact, in 2012 the Quebec Court of Appeal in Syndicat des infirmières, inhalothérapeutes, infirmières auxiliaires du Cœur du Québec (SIIIACQ) v. Centre hospitalier régional de Trois-Rivières, 2012 QCCA 1867 (in French only).confirmed that in certain circumstances, termination of employment was justified.

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9 steps employers can take to address mental illness at work

January 01, 2017 - by: Eowynne Noble 0 COMMENTS

By Eowynne Noble

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a common type of depression, often arises when the daylight hours get shorter, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, a leading Canadian hospital. With the winter months upon us, many of us will experience the winter blues, but for some the blues may be a sign of SAD and may continue for months with minimal relief. As such, during these winter months it is of increased importance that employers in Canada ensure they have the proper programs in place to address mental illness in the workplace.

The statistics
The following statistics highlight the importance of taking steps to deal with mental illness in the workplace: read more…

When are criminal charges none of your business?

December 25, 2016 - by: Hannah Roskey 0 COMMENTS

by Hannah Roskey

Off-duty misconduct could lead to an employee’s dismissal. But a recent court decision in Ontario suggests that the circumstances where that will amount to just cause for termination are quite limited. The court found that an employee who had been fired after being criminally charged with sexual assault was wrongfully dismissed. The employee was awarded damages.

Background
Merritt was a 67-year-old laborer with Tigercat Industries. The company produces forestry and industrial machines. It has several production facilities in Ontario. Merritt was hired in 1998. He was fired in February 2015. The company said it had just cause.

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Quebec Court of Appeal: People (not workplace policies) harass people

December 18, 2016 - by: Alexis Charpentier 0 COMMENTS

by Alexis Charpentier

Workplace harassment is a complicated and evolving area of the law. The lines between an employer’s right to manage its employees and harassment are often blurred. Fortunately, the Court of Appeal of Québec has provided some clarity in a recent decision in Syndicat des travailleurs de l’aluminium d’Alma, local 9490 (Syndicat des métallos, section locale 9490) c. Rio Tinto Alcan, usine d’Alma (2016 QCCA 879) by confirming that a workplace policy addressing the employer’s right to manage medical absences cannot, in and of itself, constitute harassment of employees.

Facts

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Strangers at the table: Employers may need to accept observers in collective bargaining

December 11, 2016 - by: David McDonald 0 COMMENTS

by David McDonald

In Canada, collective agreements are generally accessible to the public. Canadian jurisdictions provide mechanisms to file collective agreements with government authorities, and it is not uncommon for the union or the employer to post their agreement on the web. However, the process of bargaining itself is private and typically carefully guarded by the parties. This allows for a free flow of information between the parties in order to achieve better negotiations.

In a recent case, a Canadian labor board was faced with a difficult question: What happens when one side tries to bring “observers” to the negotiation table? Surprisingly, the board ruled that observers could have a seat at the table.

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New developments in Canadian law on gender identity and expression at work

December 04, 2016 - by: Clayton Jones 0 COMMENTS

by Clayton Jones

In Canada, legislative developments continue to occur regarding the issues of gender identity and gender expression and have gained much attention in recent months. This is due in part to the increased acknowledgement of the challenges faced by transgendered people including in the workplace.

One of the results is that employers are being required more than ever to pay attention to the issues of gender identity and gender expression at work, including ensuring that discrimination against transgendered employees isn’t tolerated and that workplace accommodations are implemented as appropriate.

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Extraordinary damages not automatic in ‘cause’ cases

November 27, 2016 - by: Keri Bennett 0 COMMENTS

by Keri Bennett

In Canada, courts can award two extraordinary forms of damages in a wrongful dismissal action: aggravated damages or punitive damages. In a wrongful dismissal action, employees who are terminated for cause often claim that they should be awarded aggravated and/or punitive damages in addition to reasonable notice damages.

In a recent decision of interest to employers in Canada, Smith v. Pacific Coast Terminals Co. Ltd., 2016 BCSC 1876, the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that these types of damages will not be awarded simply because an employer continues to assert it has cause for termination at trial.

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No mention of severance pay or benefit continuation … No worries! Termination provision enforceable nonetheless!

November 20, 2016 - by: Rachel Younan 0 COMMENTS

by Rachel Younan

Recent case law has overwhelmingly rejected termination clauses that purport to limit an employee’s entitlements upon termination to the minimum notice required by applicable employment standards legislation. In Ontario, provisions that have failed to reference severance pay and/or benefit continuation have been found to be invalid, resulting in common law notice that far exceeds the intended contractual entitlement. The 2015 Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision in Oudin v. Le Centre Francophone de Toronto, 2015 ONSC 6494, diverged from that case law and, this summer, was upheld by the Ontario Court of Appeal, 2016 ONCA 514.

Facts

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Discharged employees must prove lack of comparable jobs

November 13, 2016 - by: Keri Bennett 0 COMMENTS

by Keri Bennett

Where an employee has been dismissed from a job without sufficient notice, he or she may look to his or her former employer for compensation for any losses suffered. However, the employee has a corresponding duty to try to limit any such losses by looking for comparable employment. A failure to act reasonably in this regard could have a significant impact on any claim the employee might have against the employer.

Not surprisingly given the state of the economy and the unemployment rate, dismissed employees often claim that there are no comparable jobs available and hence the reason they have not managed to secure other employment within the notice period. In Munoz v. Sierra Systems Group Inc., 2016 BCCA 140, the Court of Appeal for British Columbia ruled that where this argument is advanced, it is up to the employee to prove it.

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