BYOD: privacy issues for Canadian employers

November 15, 2015 - by: Lorene Novakowski 0 COMMENTS

by Lorene A. Novakowski

Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, programs are increasingly popular in Canada, as they are in the United States. Under a BYOD program, employers require or expect employees to use their own mobile devices for business purposes. The practice raises privacy concerns as well as concerns about ownership of company data and the ability to retain company data when an employee departs.

In August 2015, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s federal government together with those of British Columbia and Alberta jointly issued a paper considering the privacy implications of BYOD programs. The paper also provides useful recommendations for employers. read more…

Employer permitted to post employee photos in workplace

August 16, 2015 - by: Alexis Charpentier 0 COMMENTS

by Alexis Charpentier

The right to privacy is constantly evolving. And that has implications in the workplace. Just how far employees’ privacy rights extend is constantly at issue. Recently an arbitrator in Quebec had to decide whether employees’ privacy rights extended so far that they could object to their employer’s decision to post their photos, together with their performance metrics, at their workstations. read more…

Drug testing does not always violate fundamental rights

by Marie-Gabrielle Bélanger

In Canada, the criteria for allowing random drug or alcohol testing in the workplace are very limited because these tests are regarded by our courts as an invasion of an employee’s privacy. But what about requiring targeted testing of an employee suffering from an addiction? read more…

BC addresses whether privacy rights include right to remain anonymous

July 13, 2014 - by: Chuck Harrison 0 COMMENTS

By Chuck Harrison

In a recent Canadian case, the British Columbia Labour Relations Board addressed whether privacy rights entitle an employee disciplined for serious misconduct to remain anonymous in an arbitration award. read more…

Can you keep a secret? Court upholds termination for breach of confidentiality

January 26, 2014 - by: Hannah Roskey 0 COMMENTS

By Hannah Roskey

When will an employee’s breach of confidence justify immediate dismissal under Canadian law? A recent decision by the British Columbia Supreme Court demonstrates that clearly drafted employer policies intended to protect confidential information can indeed be strictly enforced. In Steel v. Coast Capital Savings Credit Union, the court upheld the dismissal of a 20-year employee for cause in response to her breach of confidentiality and privacy policies. read more…

Individual privacy rights trumped by union’s freedom of expression

November 24, 2013 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Lorene Novakowski and Brandon Wiebe

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…

Employers’ collection of GPS data found to not breach privacy rights

October 20, 2013 - by: Lorene Novakowski 0 COMMENTS

By Lorene Novakowski

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

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Supreme Court rejects random alcohol testing policy in dangerous workplace

June 30, 2013 - by: Northern Exposure 1 COMMENTS

By Kyla Stott-Jess, Katie Clayton, and Hannah Roskey

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…

Workplace computer porn: court rules employees’ privacy rights limit police

November 04, 2012 - by: Jennifer Shepherd 0 COMMENTS

by Jennifer Shepherd

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…

Breach of privacy rights: What’s it worth?

August 05, 2012 - by: Lorene Novakowski 0 COMMENTS

by Lorene Novakowski

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.

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