In ‘denial’: Alberta Court of Appeal revisits addiction in the workplace

August 23, 2015 - by: Hannah Roskey 0 COMMENTS

by Hannah Roskey

The Alberta Court of Appeal recently released its decision in Stewart v. Elk Valley Coal Corporation, a must-read for Canadian employers dealing with employee addiction issues.

In lengthy reasons, a majority of the court agreed that there was no discrimination when an employee under the influence of cocaine was fired following a workplace accident. However, contrary to the findings of the Court of Queen’s Bench, the Court of Appeal also determined that the employee had been reasonably accommodated even though he was in “denial” of his addiction. read more…

Single mom wins rotating shift job—then wants days only—and court agrees

July 26, 2015 - by: Christian Paquette 0 COMMENTS

by Christian Paquette

Did an employer discriminate against a single mother when it required her to work the regular shift rotation job she’d applied for? An Alberta court was recently asked to rule whether an arbitrator was right in deciding against the employer. The court in SMS Equipment Inc. v. CEP, Local 707 agreed that the employer’s decision was discriminatory. The employee was entitled to work straight day shifts to accommodate her family situation. read more…

Retaliation against unreasonable discrimination complaint can cost you

November 23, 2014 - by: Kevin O'Neill 0 COMMENTS

By Kevin O’Neill, Q.C.

How the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal recently handled a retaliation complaint—where the employee was found to be not credible and unreasonable—should give employers pause. read more…

Rare costs award granted in human rights complaint

November 02, 2014 - by: Hannah Roskey 0 COMMENTS

by Hannah Roskey

Although courts routinely order one party to pay the other party a portion of its legal fees, administrative tribunals in Canada very rarely have the power or inclination to do so. That includes human rights tribunals across the country, which very rarely order one party to pay the other’s legal costs even where they have the power to do so.

In Kim Ma v. Dr. Iain G. M. Cleator, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal took the highly unusual step of ordering the complainant to pay a portion of the respondent employer’s legal fees. Why? In this case, the tribunal found the complainant’s conduct to be so egregious that it was the exception to the rule. read more…

Adverse-effect discrimination and probationary employees

September 28, 2014 - by: Kyla Stott-Jess 0 COMMENTS

by Kyla Stott-Jess

In Canada, it is well-established that employers cannot simply terminate employees whose work performance is negatively impacted by disability. Rather, an employer must attempt to accommodate the employee to the point of undue hardship. But what happens when the employee fails to notify the employer of his disability? Further, what accommodation does an employer need to provide to an employee who is still within a three-month probation period? read more…

Canadian court affirms duty to accommodate employees’ family obligations but not personal choices

June 29, 2014 - by: Stephanie Gutierrez 0 COMMENTS

By Stephanie Gutierrez

In a recent decision on family-status discrimination, the Federal Court of Appeal confirmed that employers in Canada are required to accommodate employees’ childcare obligations but not their voluntary parental choices, such as extracurricular or recreational activities. read more…

Toronto employer liable because of inadequate investigation of human rights complaint

June 22, 2014 - by: Alix Herber 0 COMMENTS

By Alix Herber

Inadequate investigation of employees’ discrimination complaints can expose employers to human rights damages. This is so even when employers do most things right. read more…

No more human rights forum shopping?

August 25, 2013 - by: Lindsey Taylor 0 COMMENTS

By Lindsey Taylor

A few weeks ago, we reported on the recent decision in Baker v. Navistar Canada Inc., which confirmed that unionized employees aren’t able to bring employment claims to court. Rather, these claims must be brought within the framework of the special legal relationship between the union and the employer, either by way of a grievance or a complaint to the respective Labour Relations Board if there are grounds to do so.

But what about human rights issues – where should a unionized employee address those? And can a unionized employee pursue claims in both arbitration and human rights forums? A recent case from the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, Mahdi v. Hertz Canada, says “no.” read more…

Managing the message in the hiring process in Canada: human rights risks

June 23, 2013 - by: Marc Rodrigue 0 COMMENTS

By Marc Rodrigue

Hiring a new employee can be a lengthy process, fraught with complex evaluations of skills, qualifications, and other attributes. The whole process must of course comply with applicable provincial and federal antidiscrimination laws.

What people say during the process may provide evidence that a hiring decision is discriminatory. Where multiple people are involved, the risk increases that remarks are made that are perceived as discriminatory. As one employer in Ontario recently discovered in Reiss v. CCH Canadian Limited, failure to manage the message to candidates can lead to a successful human rights claim even if the decision itself was proper. read more…

Mood problem or mental disorder? When can employers discipline?

May 12, 2013 - by: Kyla Stott-Jess 0 COMMENTS

By Kyla Stott-Jess

Employers in Canada can’t discriminate against employees based on mental disabilities. But the broad interpretation that courts and arbitration boards frequently apply to human rights laws often makes it difficult to know where the boundaries of “mental disability” lie.

In a recent arbitration decision in Ontario, Windsor (City) and WPFFA (Elliot), the arbitrator found that an employee’s mood problems and stress issues weren’t classifiable as mental disorders. He didn’t qualify as having a mental health disability requiring accommodation. read more…

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