Limits Placed on Videotaping Picket Line Activities

June 30, 2009 - by: Derek Knoechel 0 COMMENTS

In October and November 2006, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 were on strike and picketing at Palace Casino, located at one of Canada’s largest malls — West Edmonton Mall. Striking union members pointed a video camera at the entrance of the casino, recording the image of everyone who crossed the picket line to enter the facility.

They also took still photographs of some individuals who were crossing the picket line.  Signs placed in the area suggested that the images of persons crossing the picket line would be placed on a “CasinoScabs” website and that by crossing the picket line individuals were providing their consent for this purpose. The union also placed some of the pictures on posters and in union newsletters.

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Another Strike Against Wal-Mart in Quebec: Arbitrator Imposes Collective Agreement

June 23, 2009 - by: Dominique Launay 0 COMMENTS

For the last five years, two Wal-Mart big-box stores in Quebec have been the subject of certification applications filed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). The first store to be unionized was located in the town of Jonquière. Wal-Mart decided to close down that operation in 2005 immediately after the union applied for binding arbitration to settle the terms of the collective agreement.

The Quebec Labor Code provides that an arbitrator designated by the Minister of Labor can impose the content of a first collective agreement. This may be done when the parties are unable to reach an agreement, after negotiation and government-assisted mediation/conciliation. In imposing an agreement, the arbitrator must decide the terms “according to equity and good conscience.” The arbitrator may also take into account the conditions of employment that prevail in similar businesses.

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Beware the Unpaid Intern in Canada

June 15, 2009 - by: Sara Parchello 3 COMMENTS

One of the unfortunate outcomes of the current economic climate is that there are fewer jobs to go around for students. Summer and graduating students who have relied on summer jobs for experience and training are finding few opportunities out there.

To solve this problem, many students and graduates are reaching out to companies to offer their services on a gratuitous basis as unpaid “interns.” The mutual benefit seems obvious — especially if an unpaid internship blossoms into a full-time paying job.

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Termination Clauses in Canadian Employment Contracts

June 09, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Katie Clayton and Farrah Sunderani

If you include a termination benefit in a Canadian employment agreement, it is important to be precise. As discussed in previous Northern Exposure entries, employers in Canada must provide notice or pay in lieu of notice when terminating an employee without cause. This minimum requirement is legislated in employment laws across the country. But Canadian courts often award higher amounts, as a result of more generous judicial precedents.

Canadian courts have frequently visited the topic of an employer’s ability to limit the amount of notice they must provide to that required by statute. Can you prevent a court from awarding more? You can’t pay less than the statutory amount. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that any contract clause that purports to provide less is void and unenforceable. It is, however, possible to limit the notice of termination to the statutory minimum.

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Workers’ Compensation Claim for Mental Stress Allowed

June 02, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Derek Knoechel and Lorene Novakowski

Canadian provinces have workers’ compensation legislation that provides a no-fault system of compensation for injuries suffered on the job. The system covers lost wages, medical aid, and rehabilitation for the injured worker and generally removes the injured worker’s ability to sue the employer. The workers’ compensation system is funded by employer premiums that are set and determined primarily by the employer’s industry and by the individual employer’s experience in terms of accidents and claims.

In recent years, workers have claimed workers’ compensation benefits for workplace stress. The various provincial boards have been reluctant to approve stress claims except in limited circumstances. But maybe not for long. In a recent decision, the British Columbia Court of Appeal broadened the approach to mental stress claims.

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Reducing Pension Costs in Canada During Hard Times

May 26, 2009 - by: Lyne Duhaime 2 COMMENTS

The recent decline in financial markets has caused Canadian pension plans to become significantly underfunded. For instance, in Québec close to 97 percent of all defined benefit pension plans are currently underfunded.

As this continues, many employers may look for ways to reduce pension costs or at least offset increases of those costs. Such losses can have a significant impact on a company’s ability to survive the current economic downturn.

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Ontario’s Workplace Violence and Harassment Law Overreaches

May 19, 2009 - by: Brian Smeenk 0 COMMENTS

ACME Insurance Company employs 500 employees and managers at its Toronto head office. They work in a pleasant, some might even say tranquil, office environment. In the 50-year history of the company, there has never been any hint of violent behavior in the workplace. To the contrary, some people find it too quiet there.

Bawring, Bawring & Yawn is an old accounting firm in Ottawa, serving its faithful, established business clients. It has 30 employees and a dozen partners, many of whom have quietly worked together for decades.

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Weathering the Economic Storm in Canada: Restructuring and Employees’ Rights

May 12, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 1 COMMENTS

By Leanne Fioravanti and Stephen Acker

In these tough financial times, a number of companies are trying to reorganize themselves in order to avoid insolvency or bankruptcy. In Canada, there are several laws that help facilitate this process: the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) and the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA). For the most part, employees are often left high and dry during these restructurings, as these laws don’t offer them much protection.

Canadian processes
The CCAA is a federal law that allows financially troubled companies that owe in excess of $5 million the opportunity to restructure their affairs. The CCAA process is court-driven, giving judges a high degree of flexibility to decide how best to deal with the specific cases before them. A monitor is appointed to oversee the restructuring and to report to the court when necessary about the restructuring.

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Attendance Management Programs and Human Rights

May 05, 2009 - by: Derek Knoechel 0 COMMENTS

Managing absenteeism can be a significant challenge for Canadian employers. A wide variety of factual situations may be complicated by employment standards, privacy and human rights laws, as well as any applicable union agreements.

An example of the potential challenges of implementing an attendance management program (AMP) is the decade-long battle between Coast Mountain Bus Company Ltd. (CMBC) and the Canadian Auto Workers. It involved an AMP covering transit operators in the Greater Vancouver region of British Columbia.

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New Bill Introduced to Curb Workplace Violence and Harassment

May 05, 2009 - by: Karen Sargeant 1 COMMENTS

Ontario is looking to reduce violence and harassment in the workplace. To that end,
Bill 168, An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act with respect to violence and harassment in the workplace, received first reading on April 20, 2009. Bill 168, if passed, would amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

The key components of Bill 168 are: read more…

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