Avoiding liability risks when you fire a sexual harasser

November 05, 2017 - by: Theodore Fong 0 COMMENTS

by Theodore Fong

The risks to employers in sexual harassment cases can be big. Potential liability can arise from any decision. Employers may then find themselves having to make tough decisions on tight timelines.

The key to ensuring an appropriate response is to be prepared. Preparation will permit an employer to take a proactive approach, as opposed to a reactive stance, when sexual harassment is discovered. That is a lesson that can be drawn from the recent Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench case of Watkins v. Willow Park Golf Course Ltd.

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Walking the line between termination and resignation

October 01, 2017 - by: Hannah Roskey 0 COMMENTS

by Hannah Roskey

For Canadian employers, navigating the distinction between resignation and termination can be tricky. If an employee resigns, there is no entitlement to severance. If an employee is terminated without cause, the employer is on the hook for termination pay (and possibly severance pay in Ontario and the federal jurisdiction). The recent Alberta ruling in Carroll v. Purcee, 2017 ABQB 211, highlights that mistakes in distinguishing between termination and resignation can be costly.

Background

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The importance of respecting confidentiality clauses in termination agreements

September 17, 2017 - by: Alexandra Meunier 0 COMMENTS

by Alexandra Meunier

In Canadian labor relations, parties commonly enter into termination agreements in order to settle grievances and avoid any future litigation. Such agreements may contain confidentiality clauses. However, what happens when a party does not strictly respect the content of a confidentiality clause?

This is the question that was submitted to the arbitrator André Bergeron in Centre de santé et de services sociaux du Sud de Lanaudière (Centre d’hébergement des Deux-Rives) et Syndicat interprofessionnel de la santé de Lanaudière Sud (SILS-FIQ) (France Paré), 2017 QCTA 496 [only available in French].

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When working notice just doesn’t work

August 20, 2017 - by: Jacqueline Gant 0 COMMENTS

by Jacqueline Gant

For employers shutting down operations, providing working notice is often the best way to reduce severance amounts owed. Except when it’s not. In McLeod v. 1274458 Ontario Inc., an Ontario court confirmed that working notice is appropriate only for employees capable of working during the notice period.

Facts

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To enforce or not to enforce ESA-only termination clauses: That is the question!

April 16, 2017 - by: Sophie Arseneault 0 COMMENTS

by Sophie Arseneault

Employers celebrated the January 2017 decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Cook v. Hatch upholding a termination clause that did not speak to statutory severance pay or the requirement to maintain health benefits during the statutory notice period. A month later, employers were left scratching their heads once again when the Court of Appeal for Ontario (ONCA) responded with its decision in Wood v. Fred Deeley Imports Ltd, 2017 ONCA 158, overturning a motion judge’s ruling refusing to invalidate a very similar provision.

Cook v. Hatch

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Seasonal employee not bound by noncompetition clause

March 26, 2017 - by: Matthew Larsen 0 COMMENTS

by Matthew Larsen

A British Columbia court recently explored a novel issue – whether a noncompetition clause is enforceable against a seasonal employee.

Facts

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Taking the high road: Marijuana at work could trigger obligations to question

January 22, 2017 - by: Cory Sully 0 COMMENTS

by Cory Sully

While access to medical marijuana has increased in Canada over the last few years, the consumption of medical marijuana has arguably become less taboo with the new Trudeau government’s pledge to eventually legalize and regulate this substance.

In the summer of 2016, the government made the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), which allows individuals to legally consume marijuana for medical purposes if they meet certain criteria. The ACMPR is designed to allow individuals to access and use marijuana, notably by producing their own cannabis or designating someone to do so for them.

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Alberta Court of Appeal helps employers ring in the New Year in Style(s)

January 15, 2017 - by: Kyla Stott-Jess 0 COMMENTS

by Kyla Stott-Jess

The Alberta Court of Appeal has released its first decision of 2017Styles v. Alberta Investment Management Corporation, 2017 ABCA 1and it is undoubtedly welcome news (and a nice gift) to employers.

The issue of whether or not a dismissed employee is entitled to bonus compensation during the period of reasonable notice has been a hot topic as of late. In Styles, the Alberta Court of Appeal weighed in and concluded that (1) in the event of a without-cause termination, an employer is not obligated to provide the employee with reasons for the termination; and (2) employees are not entitled to bonus payouts where they have not met the contractual preconditions. Suffice it to say, Styles looks to be ringing in a better 2017 for employers.

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No mention of severance pay or benefit continuation … No worries! Termination provision enforceable nonetheless!

November 20, 2016 - by: Rachel Younan 0 COMMENTS

by Rachel Younan

Recent case law has overwhelmingly rejected termination clauses that purport to limit an employee’s entitlements upon termination to the minimum notice required by applicable employment standards legislation. In Ontario, provisions that have failed to reference severance pay and/or benefit continuation have been found to be invalid, resulting in common law notice that far exceeds the intended contractual entitlement. The 2015 Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision in Oudin v. Le Centre Francophone de Toronto, 2015 ONSC 6494, diverged from that case law and, this summer, was upheld by the Ontario Court of Appeal, 2016 ONCA 514.

Facts

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‘You must be actively employed to receive bonus’—or not, says Ontario court

October 02, 2016 - by: Shane Todd 0 COMMENTS

by Shane Todd

In an attempt to their limit severance exposure, employers often require that an employee be “actively employed” on the bonus payment date in order to be eligible to earn a bonus. The idea being that the severance payable to a dismissed employee would not have to take into account an employee’s bonus earnings as the employee would not be able to satisfy the “active employment” requirement contained in the applicable bonus plan. However, as the Court of Appeal for Ontario recently confirmed in Paquette v. TeraGo Networks Inc., 2016 ONCA 618, “active employment” requirements are insufficient to remove or limit a dismissed employee’s rights.

What happened

Trevor Paquette was employed by TeraGo Networks for 14 years. He earned a base salary and was eligible for an annual bonus. The bonus plan required Paquette to be “actively employed” at the time the bonus was paid in order to receive it. In November 2014, Paquette was terminated without cause. The parties could not agree on a severance package and so Paquette sued TeraGo for wrongful dismissal. read more…

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