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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Ontario court awards 3 types of damages in sexual harassment case

March 12, 2017 - by: Hannah Roskey 0 COMMENTS

by Hannah Roskey

An employee who was repeatedly sexually harassed by her coworker sued her employer after being terminated. In addition to normal damages for wrongful dismissal she was awarded $60,000 for “moral damages” by the trial judge, plus damages for the employer’s violation of human rights laws.

In Doyle v. Zochem Inc., 2017 ONCA 130, the Ontario Court of Appeal recently upheld this award and dismissed the employer’s appeal. This decision is a stark reminder of the importance of properly investigating employee complaints. It also confirms that moral damages and damages under human rights laws may both be awarded to an employee, without being characterized as “double dipping.”

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Quebec Court of Appeal: People (not workplace policies) harass people

December 18, 2016 - by: Alexis Charpentier 0 COMMENTS

by Alexis Charpentier

Workplace harassment is a complicated and evolving area of the law. The lines between an employer’s right to manage its employees and harassment are often blurred. Fortunately, the Court of Appeal of Québec has provided some clarity in a recent decision in Syndicat des travailleurs de l’aluminium d’Alma, local 9490 (Syndicat des métallos, section locale 9490) c. Rio Tinto Alcan, usine d’Alma (2016 QCCA 879) by confirming that a workplace policy addressing the employer’s right to manage medical absences cannot, in and of itself, constitute harassment of employees.

Facts

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Can tribunal rule on harassment complaint if alleged harasser works for different employer?

August 28, 2016 - by: Lorene Novakowski 0 COMMENTS

by Lorene Novakowski

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal had no jurisdiction to hear a complaint where the alleged harasser was employed by a different employer than the alleged victim. The alleged harasser was not in a position of control over the complainant even though they worked at the same site. So the complaint was not regarding employment, as it must be. So ruled the BC Court of Appeal recently. read more…

Harassment at work: Do victim’s wishes matter?

May 29, 2016 - by: Alexandra Meunier 0 COMMENTS

by Alexandra Meunier

When assessing whether behavior constitutes sexual harassment, Canadian decision-makers usually look at the situation objectively. In other words, they don’t typically put much emphasis on subjective elements, such as the perception of the victim. Recently, an arbitrator in Quebec has done just that. read more…

New high-water mark set by human rights tribunal for damages for sexual harassment

October 25, 2015 - by: Nicole Singh 0 COMMENTS

by Nicole Singh

In May 2015, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario issued an unprecedented decision when it awarded two temporary foreign workers more than $200,000 in damages for injury to dignity, feelings, and self-respect resulting from sexual harassment in employment. 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…

Workers’ comp for injuries from systemic workplace harassment

February 23, 2014 - by: Kyla Stott-Jess 0 COMMENTS

By Kyla Stott-Jess

A recent Alberta court decision indicates that health problems arising from systemic harassment in the workplace can be covered by workers’ compensation (WCB) insurance. This decision may have ramifications across Canada. 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…

Bullying and harassment in the workplace: lessons from the Miami Dolphins

December 01, 2013 - by: Kyla Stott-Jess 0 COMMENTS

By Kyla Stott-Jess

The professional sports world has been buzzing with the sudden departure of offensive tackle Jonathan Martin from the Miami Dolphins. His midseason exit from the team comes amid allegations that he was the victim of harassment and bullying.

The scandal has given the public a glimpse behind closed locker-room doors, into the testosterone-fueled “workplace culture” of professional football—a culture rife with hazing, teasing, and, in this particular instance, aggressive and targeted harassment of a young player. While Martin’s alleged harassment will be dealt with under U.S. laws, his situation draws attention to issues faced by Canadian employers. read more…

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