On November 15, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a union’s right to collect, use, and disclose personal information for legitimate labor relations purposes outweighs an individual’s right to privacy. In so doing, it declared Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) unconstitutional but suspended the declaration for one year to allow the Alberta legislature time to cure the statute. read more…
In two recent cases out of British Columbia, employers were found to be entitled to collect GPS information from service vehicles and from mobile phones issued to employees. Employees had complained that the collection of the GPS information was contrary to the BC Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA). The complaints were considered by BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC).
ThyssenKrupp Elevator (Canada) Limited
Canada’s highest court has ruled that random drug and alcohol testing in the workplace violates privacy rights. In Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 30 v. Irving Pulp & Paper Ltd., the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) considered the validity of a random alcohol testing policy in a unionized workplace. In a 6-3 decision, the SCC agreed with the original arbitration board decision to strike down the employer’s mandatory drug and alcohol testing policy. read more…
On October 19, 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) issued its ruling in R. v. Cole. The court held that a person’s right to be protected against unreasonable searches was breached when the police looked at computer files the employer had given them without first obtaining a search warrant.
A Sudbury high school provided one of its teachers, Richard Cole, with a laptop to be used for the purpose of teaching. While reviewing students’ computer files, Cole discovered nude photos of an under-age student and copied them onto the hard drive of his work laptop. read more…
In a recent Alberta arbitration award, the arbitrator awarded damages to employees for a breach of their privacy rights, in the amount of $1,250 each.
The grievance arose after the province of Alberta conducted background credit checks without consent on 26 government employees. The employees worked in an area–maintenance enforcement–that gave them discretion in handling funds on behalf of the province.
Does Canadian law recognize a right to sue somebody for invasion of privacy? In a landmark ruling in Jones v. Tsige, Ontario’s highest court recently said essentially: Yes. In limited circumstances you can sue for “intrusion upon seclusion.” But you won’t have a big payday.
This decision is a very significant development in Canadian law. It has potentially wide-ranging ramifications across many sectors, including in the labor and employment context.
The recent decision of Limited v. Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 30 by the New Brunswick Court of Appeal has upheld random alcohol testing where the workplace is determined to be “inherently dangerous” and the method of testing is minimally intrusive.
This is an important case for employers seeking to ensure the safety of their workplaces in Canada. Drug and alcohol testing in Canada is legally more restricted than it is in the United States.
The evolution of privacy rights in the Canadian workplace continues. In recent months we have updated you on court and labor arbitration decisions that have commented on employee privacy rights. An individual employee tried to take her rights one step further when she sued another employee for invasion of her privacy rights.
Another recent Canadian case dealing with collection of personal information about employees, this time through surveillance, emphasizes the importance of good employment policy language for Canadian employers. In Toronto Catholic School Board v. Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 1280,  O.L.A.A. No. 180, the question was whether surveillance tape evidence was admissible in an arbitration hearing.
In a previous article, we told you about the court decision in R. v. Cole. It was about whether inappropriate images on an employee’s workplace computer could properly be seized. One of the takeaways was that organizations should have clear policy language for employees.
A month ago, we reported on the Ontario Court of Appeal’s surprising decision in R. v. Cole. In that decision the Court of Appeal said that a high school teacher was protected against searches on his work computer by the police absent a search warrant. The Court of Appeal based its decision on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Recently, an arbitrator in Quebec also considered an employee’s Charter rights, this time the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. It said that Laval University violated an employee’s Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms when it reviewed an email sent by the employee — on the university’s systems — to the union.
At issue was a brief exchange of emails on January 16, 2007: read more…