Discipline for off-duty cocaine use justified in safety-sensitive workplace

June 25, 2017 - by: Rosalind Cooper 0 COMMENTS

by Rosalind H. Cooper

A recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Stewart v Elk Valley Coal Corp., 2017 SCC 30, has confirmed that employers have the ability to take disciplinary action against employees for drug and alcohol use in safety-sensitive workplaces.

The worker in this case was employed in a mine where a drug and alcohol policy had been implemented. The policy required workers to disclose any dependence or addiction issues and to make such disclosure in advance of any incident occurring. If employees followed the policy, they were offered treatment for their addiction. If disclosure was not made and an incident occurred and the employee subsequently tested positive for alcohol or drugs, he or she could be terminated.

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Broader workplace harassment claims: Is Canada becoming more litigious?

June 18, 2017 - by: Shane Todd 0 COMMENTS

by Shane Todd

Can a Canadian employee sue an employer for harassment that is not related to a discrimination claim? The answer used to be “no.” But that’s changing.

In most jurisdictions across Canada, an employee could sue or file a human rights application for harassment related to unlawful discrimination. An employee could file a complaint with the appropriate government agency about workplace harassment that violates health and safety or harassment laws. An employee could even sue for constructive dismissal based on harassing conduct. But, until recently, an employee could not usually sue an employer for harassment that was unrelated to some other legal right or protection.

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Corporate director, 69, not allowed to pursue human rights claim because he isn’t employee

March 05, 2017 - by: Cindy Switzer 0 COMMENTS

by Cindy Switzer

In a recent decision – Peterson v. The Mutual Fire Insurance Company of BC, 2017 BCHRT 21 (CanLII) – the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal considered whether a corporate director who was told he could not serve a second term on the company’s board because he was over 69 years old, ought to be protected by human rights legislation.

The tribunal concluded that the applicant, a director on the board of an insurance company, was not entitled to protection from age discrimination under the British Columbia Human Rights Code because he was not in an employment relationship with the company.

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Quebec City shootings: What can we learn from this tragedy?

February 02, 2017 - by: Brian Smeenk 1 COMMENTS

By Brian Smeenk

Six innocent men were shot in the back while praying in a Quebec City mosque on January 29. The apparently racially motivated act of violence makes us all pause to reflect. How could this happen? In a peaceful city like that? In a peaceful country like Canada? What is happening in our society that would give rise to such hateful violence?  Flag of Quebec

Perhaps we can all learn something from such a tragedyincluding HR professionals, business managers, and even lawyers. Canadians and Americans alike.

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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…

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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Benefits beyond age 65?

June 26, 2016 - by: Marc Rodrigue 0 COMMENTS

By Marc Rodrigue

The laws that generally provided for mandatory retirement in Canada have been eliminated. Across Canada, with very few exceptions, employees generally cannot be forced to retire at age 65. But can their benefits be cut off at age 65?

Even if employers are permitted to cut off benefits to workers 65 and older under human rights antidiscrimination laws, are they contractually entitled to do so? Recent labor arbitration decisions indicate that if employers don’t properly contract to cut off benefits, they may not be entitled to cut off benefits at all.

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Employee fired for expressing political views at work wins reinstatement and damages

November 01, 2015 - by: Louise Bechamp 0 COMMENTS

by Louise Béchamp

With a Canadian federal election recently behind us, it is safe to say that politics has been a hot topic of discussion in some Canadian workplaces. A Quebec employer was recently reminded, at significant cost, that employees are entitled to express their political opinions at work and may not be fired for doing so. read more…

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…

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