A ‘Routine’ Background Check in Canada? There’s No Such Thing

January 13, 2009 - by: Derek Knoechel 0 COMMENTS

by Derek Knoechel

In 1990, a 21-year-old woman was caught shoplifting. She then pleaded guilty to a charge of theft, receiving a conditional discharge. Some five years later, she applied for a position with the Montreal police force. So began a 13-year legal odyssey culminating in a Supreme Court of Canada decision (Montréal (City) v. Quebec (Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, 2008 SCC 48) released in August of 2008.

As part of the background screening process, the Montreal police force became aware of the past guilty plea. It rejected her application on the basis that the guilty plea showed she did not possess the necessary “good moral character” required of police officers. The “good moral character” test was legitimate – it was a statutory requirement. The police force believed this test supported its rejection of the woman’s application.

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More Bad News for Wal-Mart in Canada

January 06, 2009 - by: Dominique Launay 0 COMMENTS

by Dominique Launay

Five weeks ago, we told you about an unfair labor practice complaint against Wal-Mart in Saskatchewan, arising out of its closure of a store in Jonquiere, Quebec. Well, it seems that Saskatchewan isn’t the only province in which Wal-Mart is being dealt blows. The Quebec Labor Relations Board  has also recently ruled against Wal-Mart.

In 2005, Wal-Mart received two applications for certification from the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 486. One was for the main store in Gatineau, Quebec. The other was for the auto center next door. These didn’t end up being normal applications for certification and ended up with considerable debate before the Quebec Labor Relations Board.

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Protecting Your Business from Departing Employees

December 30, 2008 - by: Derek Knoechel 0 COMMENTS

by Derek Knoechel

Sophisticated employers in Canada recognize that the potential costs associated with employee turnover extend far beyond the cost of replacing departing employees. Departures can also place critical business assets at risk.

A departing employee may engage in the unauthorized use or disclosure of confidential information ranging from technological know-how, product roadmaps and marketing strategies to critical information about clients and suppliers. Departing employees may also interfere with the employer’s relationships with customers, suppliers, and other employees.

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Challenging Times in Canada Present Opportunities for Creative Solutions

December 23, 2008 - by: Katie Clayton 1 COMMENTS

by Katie Clayton

In this economic climate in Canada, many employers are being forced to find ways to reduce costs, which often means layoffs. But layoffs don’t have to be the only answer — you can reduce costs without losing valuable employees.

One way businesses can do so is to slightly reduce their employees hours of work. Even a small decrease in work hours can have a significant effect on a company’s bottom line, allowing it to keep talented employees for when the economy rebounds. So how do employers go about reducing employees’ hours of work while avoiding claims that it has unilaterally altered a term of employment, which could lead to a claim for constructive dismissal?

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Canadian Employer Can’t Fire Worker On Marijuana

December 16, 2008 - by: Sara Parchello 2 COMMENTS

by Sara Parchello

While U.S. employers know that their human resources policies may need to be tweaked to comply with Canadian laws, many are surprised at how different Canada’s drug testing laws are.

In the United States, drug use and impairment in the workplace are seen the same as any other criminal activity. In Canada, however, employee drug use and impairment is governed by human rights and privacy legislation.

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Categories: Arbitration / Human Rights / Privacy

What do recent changes in the Canadian Parliament mean for businesses?

December 09, 2008 - by: Brian Smeenk 0 COMMENTS

by Brian Smeenk

Much has been happening on the political front in Canada in the past two weeks. It has kept us spellbound, but all the politics has certainly not advanced the government’s economic agenda.

On Monday, December 1, the three opposition parties in the federal Parliament announced that they had formed a coalition and intended to topple Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party, minority government. They would do so by bringing a no confidence vote one week later.

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Categories: Employer's Tip

Canadian Employer Avoids Prior Severance Promises

December 09, 2008 - by: Karen Sargeant 0 COMMENTS

by Karen Sargeant

During these tough economic times, employers are often looking to increase flexibility. Several of our recent blog entries have discussed ways in which employers can do so – furloughs, work-sharing programs, changing employment contracts, and adjusting the size of the workforce. Recently, the British Columbia Court of Appeal granted Raytheon Canada some flexibility when it said that Raytheon did not have to provide severance pay in accordance with prior promises. (Marija Ciric v Raytheon Canada Limited)

Severance pay promises
In January 2004, Raytheon began downsizing its Richmond, British Columbia, facility. Layoffs had been made, more were expected and were subsequently made, and Raytheon was anxious to retain key employees. In order to do so, Raytheon told employees that were not being laid off that the practice of paying severance pay based on one month’s salary for each year of service, with an upward adjustment for age and level, would continue to apply to employees who were laid off from the Richmond facility in the future.

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Quebec closing may have ramifications in Saskatchewan – Wal-Mart revisited

December 02, 2008 - by: Karen Sargeant 0 COMMENTS

by Karen Sargeant

As many of you will know from earlier blog entries, Wal-Mart’s entry into Canada has been rife with union complaints. Beginning in the 1990s when employees at a Windsor, Ontario, store were automatically certified under relatively new certification provisions, employees and unions have filed numerous unfair labor practice complaints. The most recent of these complaints to be dealt with comes out of Saskatchewan.

What’s interesting about the development in Saskatchewan is that it involves a store in another province — Quebec.

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Creative Ways to Cut Labor Costs in Canada: Furloughs and Work Sharing

November 25, 2008 - by: Sara Parchello 1 COMMENTS

by Sara Parchello

Many employers in Canada are assessing how they can continue to compete during the tough financial times that appear to be heading toward us. One of the most difficult decisions employers must make is how to reorganize or reduce labor costs in order to stay competitive.

While closures and layoffs make sense for some employers, other employers are questioning whether other options are available to them. What options do companies have in tough economic times to reduce labor costs?

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Canadian Employer Uses Arbitration to Recover Losses from Employee’s Theft

November 18, 2008 - by: Brian Smeenk 0 COMMENTS

by Brian Smeenk

TFI Transport (doing business as Canadian Freightways) had a bit of a theft problem in its Calgary terminal in 2005 and 2006. The company was losing television sets and generators. It conducted an investigation and was able to prove that one of its employees, Wayne Spence, had either stolen or was knowingly in possession of a number of the TVs and at least one generator.

The company tried to get an explanation from Spence, without success. But rather than just fire the culprit (and why they didn’t was never explained), they filed a claim for damages against him. The company filed a grievance against the employee and presented it to his union. TFI Transport 7 LP, Transforce Administration Inc. vs. Wayne Bruce Spence (Arbitrator D. Tettensor), April 25, 2008.

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