New accessibility laws coming for federal sector

October 23, 2016 - by: Jackie VanDerMeulen 0 COMMENTS

by Jackie VanDerMeulen

Laws aimed at making organizations more accessible for Canadians with disabilities have been enacted by various jurisdictions across Canada in recent years. The federal government recently announced that it too plans to introduce legislation to promote accessibility. It will apply to federally regulated employers, such as banks, cross-border transportation providers, and telecommunications companies.

The Government is currently soliciting input from Canadians on what they would like to see addressed by the legislation. We anticipate however, that the new legislation will incorporate many features from Ontario and Manitoba’s accessibility laws.

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Going down the class-action Tran-Canada Highway

October 16, 2016 - by: Kyla Stott-Jess 0 COMMENTS

by Kyla Stott-Jess and Mitchell Barnard

The phrase “class action lawsuit” can strike fear in the executive ranks of any large company. The development of class action law in in the employment context has been slower north of the 49th parallel than in the United States. Recently, though, a line of cases has been paving the class action ‘highway’ to increased Canadian litigation in this area. Much of the law to date has focused on certification. For a legal action to be certified, its initiators must prove that it is appropriate for the claims to be brought as a class proceeding. A recent Ontario decision suggests that certification may not provide as much of a speed bump as employers would like. read more…

Medical assessment gives reasonable grounds for employee surveillance

October 09, 2016 - by: Mikaël Maher 0 COMMENTS

by Mikaël Maher

Surveillance may be an effective way for an employer to confirm or dispel their doubts about the legitimacy of a disability claim. But when is it legally permissible in Canada? In the recent decision Centre de santé et de services sociaux de la Vallée de la Gatineau v. Martin [1], the Quebec Superior Court weighed in on this issue. It set aside a 2013 arbitration award that excluded video surveillance evidence. Despite a medical assessment finding that the disability claim was fake, the arbitrator had ruled that the employer did not have reasonable grounds to undertake the surveillance. The court disagreed.

Generally, the employer’s right to undertake surveillance is limited in Canada, to protect the fundamental right to privacy of all employees. Courts and tribunals have ruled that before initiating a surveillance operation, an employer must have reasonable grounds for conducting it. Even if there are reasonable grounds, surveillance must be done in the least intrusive manner possible. read more…

‘You must be actively employed to receive bonus’—or not, says Ontario court

October 02, 2016 - by: Shane Todd 0 COMMENTS

by Shane Todd

In an attempt to their limit severance exposure, employers often require that an employee be “actively employed” on the bonus payment date in order to be eligible to earn a bonus. The idea being that the severance payable to a dismissed employee would not have to take into account an employee’s bonus earnings as the employee would not be able to satisfy the “active employment” requirement contained in the applicable bonus plan. However, as the Court of Appeal for Ontario recently confirmed in Paquette v. TeraGo Networks Inc., 2016 ONCA 618, “active employment” requirements are insufficient to remove or limit a dismissed employee’s rights.

What happened

Trevor Paquette was employed by TeraGo Networks for 14 years. He earned a base salary and was eligible for an annual bonus. The bonus plan required Paquette to be “actively employed” at the time the bonus was paid in order to receive it. In November 2014, Paquette was terminated without cause. The parties could not agree on a severance package and so Paquette sued TeraGo for wrongful dismissal. read more…

Union blog’s sexist comments about manager constitutionally protected, not discriminatory, says court

September 25, 2016 - by: Nicole Singh 0 COMMENTS

by Nicole Singh

Canadian tribunals have consistently ruled that communications by employees on social media can be viewed as an extension of the workplace. Improper communication on such platforms can therefore be considered a form of workplace discrimination under Canadian human rights laws. Discipline or termination can sometimes be appropriate.

However, in the decision Taylor-Baptiste v. Ontario Public Service Employees Union, a union official’s sexist and offensive blog posts about his manager were found to not constitute discrimination under Ontario’s Human Rights Code. Instead, the comments in the blog posts were protected by his constitutional free speech and associational rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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Can one unionized worker sue another?

September 18, 2016 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

by Stéphane Fillion and Romeo Aguilar Perez

It is well established in Canada that any legal action whose essential character arises from a collective agreement falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of an arbitrator, not the courts. Clearly, that includes a dispute between a unionized employee and his or her employer.

But what if a dispute involves not only a unionized employee and an employer but also other employees? In other words, can a unionized employee personally sue a colleague for damages that occurred while at work in the courts? According to a recent Quebec Court of Appeal decision in Barber c. J.T., apparently not. read more…

Mandatory employee medical examinations—employer gets it right

September 11, 2016 - by: Chuck Harrison 0 COMMENTS

by Chuck Harrison

A recent labor arbitration decision in Canada provides a guide for employers to “get it right” when balancing occupational safety and health obligations against employee privacy rights. read more…

Hassle-free border crossings: What to do before U.S. national makes application at Canadian port of entry

September 04, 2016 - by: Gilda Villaran 0 COMMENTS

by Gilda Villaran

In 2015, a number of changes were announced to the procedures at Canadian ports of entry. Unfortunately, there continues to be a lack of awareness about these changes on the part of many U.S. companies that occasionally assign employees to work in Canada. As a result, some companies have been caught off guard when their employees are refused entry at the Canadian border. We are writing this article to clarify the obligations of U.S. companies that send employees to perform work in Canada. read more…

Can tribunal rule on harassment complaint if alleged harasser works for different employer?

August 28, 2016 - by: Lorene Novakowski 0 COMMENTS

by Lorene Novakowski

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal had no jurisdiction to hear a complaint where the alleged harasser was employed by a different employer than the alleged victim. The alleged harasser was not in a position of control over the complainant even though they worked at the same site. So the complaint was not regarding employment, as it must be. So ruled the BC Court of Appeal recently. read more…

Turning the tables: An arbitrator focuses on an employer’s use of social media

August 21, 2016 - by: Megan Rolland 0 COMMENTS

by Megan Rolland

In Canada, a recent Ontario arbitration decision serves as a cautionary tale for employers who use social media to interact with customers and clients. read more…

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