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…

Gender identity and expression now protected in Ontario

May 05, 2013 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Alix Herber and Keri Bennett

Human Rights Tribunals across Canada are constantly expanding the interpretation of prohibited grounds. Ontario has recently joined Manitoba and the Northwest Territories and gone one step further by recognizing gender identity as a prohibited ground. read more…

Better an addict than a thief: disciplining drug- and alcohol-dependent employees

March 24, 2013 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Jennifer M. Shepherd and Hannah Roskey

It’s well established that discrimination against an employee on the basis of a physical or mental disability is prohibited in Canada. Drug or alcohol addictions constitute a “disability” under most human rights legislation such that employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees on the basis of their addictions.

read more…

Definition of ‘employer’ key to human rights claim of worker in isolated location

January 27, 2013 - by: Kyla Stott-Jess 1 COMMENTS

By Kyla Stott-Jess

The Alberta Court of Appeal has recently added to the ongoing debate in Canada over who is or isn’t an employer in the human rights context. In its recent decision in 375850 Alberta Ltd. v. Beverly Noel and the Director of the Alberta Human Rights Commission, the dismissal of the complainant’s appeal illustrates that naming the correct employer is vital to the outcome. read more…

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