Human rights complaint can hurt your reputation AND your bottom line

March 23, 2014 - by: David Wong 0 COMMENTS

By David G. Wong

Until recently, the damages awarded by Canadian human rights tribunals, courts, and arbitrators across the country for human rights violations were relatively modest. In the past few years, we have seen those awards increase, although not to an outrageous level. But that might all be changing, as two recent decisions out of Western Canada—one out of British Columbia and the other out of Alberta—suggest. read more…

Human rights claim disallowed; victim was part of the harassment

February 02, 2014 - by: Nicola Sutton 0 COMMENTS

By Nicola Sutton

In December 2013 we reported on the allegations faced by the Miami Dolphins that one of its players had been bullied and harassed by his teammates, an issue faced by many employers. Sometimes these issues are complicated when a complaining employee has been or is an active participant in the complained-of behavior.

How do Canadian courts and human rights tribunals deal with these situations? The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal had occasion to consider this recently in Kafer v. Sleep Country Canada and another (No. 2). read more…

Allergies in the workplace can’t be ignored

September 29, 2013 - by: Eowynne Noble 1 COMMENTS

By Eowynne Noble

Peanuts, gluten, perfumes, smoke, and latex—we all know allergies to these and other substances are on the rise. And workplaces aren’t immune to the problem. More and more employees are suffering from allergies and sensitivities than ever before.

To put it in perspective, Health Canada recently reported that up to four percent of Canadians have a physician-diagnosed food allergy. We understand that schools accommodate these types of allergies, but surely employers don’t have to. Not true, as was made clear in a recent Ontario arbitration decision, London Health Sciences Centre v. Ontario Nurses’ Association (LHSC v. ONA). 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…

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…

Personal liability of managers for workplace harassment

February 17, 2013 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Marisa Victor and Lydia de Guzman

Canadian employers, like those in the United States, are required to deal effectively with sexual harassment in the workplace. But managers have usually been personally liable only in the worst cases.

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…

Managing the end to mandatory retirement

October 28, 2012 - by: Keri Bennett 0 COMMENTS

by Keri Bennett

As we reported previously, the Canadian federal government is about to join most of the provinces in making mandatory retirement, for the most part, unlawful. That deadline is fast approaching – December 15, 2012. What can employers do until then? According to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, very little.

Human Rights Commission news release

Earlier this year, the Canadian Human Rights Commission issued a news release cautioning employers against using the time leading up to December 15 to force employees to retire before they are ready to. In the release, Acting Chief Commissioner David Langtry said that “[t]he transition period should not be viewed as a license to force aging workers out the door. Forcing someone to retire because of their age clearly contradicts Parliament’s intent, even if a defence in the law still appears to be available.” read more…

Taking Environmental Sensitivities Seriously

June 17, 2012 - by: Lindsey Taylor 0 COMMENTS

By Lindsey Taylor

The issue of employees with environmental sensitivities often arises for Canadian employers. Most commonly, employees complain about sensitivities to strong scents such as perfume.

Human rights laws in many provinces accept that environmental sensitivities may be disabilities, to which the duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship may apply. This was recently confirmed by the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal in McDaniel and McDaniel v. Strata Plan LMS 1657 (No.2), when it considered a case where the disability was sensitivity to secondhand smoke.

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Categories: Human Rights

Duty to Accommodate Disabilities Takes New Turn in Canada

February 19, 2012 - by: Donna Gallant 0 COMMENTS

By Donna Gallant

Employers are regularly called upon to modify the workplace or job duties in order to accommodate disabilities. But personal assistive bodily devices haven’t traditionally been part of the accommodation discussion in Canada. This may now be changing, according to a recent arbitration decision.

Teacher requires hearing aids
A teacher struggled with a serious, progressive hearing loss. She bought an analog hearing aid in the early 1990s. Her hearing got worse, and she couldn’t communicate effectively, which of course is an essential part of teaching.

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