Canadian employers have many ways to monitor and control their business operations. However, new technologies — if misused — may lead to violations of employees’ rights. In particular, this raises the question of the extent of employees’ right to privacy.
Along with the extraordinary benefits accompanying today’s rapidly advancing technology comes an increasing vulnerability for Canadian employers who strive to hire the “best of the best” information technology groups.
On the one hand, “wizard like” computer skills are an invaluable asset — they can lead a company’s growth while sharpening its competitive edge. On the other hand, these advanced skills also can be a source of weakness as management struggles to predict the numerous and complex ways in which a technology employee might abuse his or her position and even cause harm to the business.
When the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (San Francisco) affirmed an order certifying the largest employment discrimination class action ever in the United States, Wal-Mart was left facing a class of up to 1.5 million members. Employers were left wondering just how big and powerful these opponents might get.
On December 6, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to a review. U.S. employers are hoping the Supreme Court’s decision will put more restrictions on employment class actions. Canadian employers will want to stay tuned. Class actions south of the border can inspire similar litigation in Canada.
Most Canadian employers are familiar with what they can and can’t do when they’re the target of a union-organizing campaign. Labor legislation across Canada prohibits management from terminating or disciplining employees because of trade union affiliation while a union is attempting to gain representational rights. A recent decision from British Columbia, Playtime Peardonville Ventures Ltd. and USW, Local 2952, warns that those prohibitions may continue in a workplace even months after the employees have voted to get rid of the union.
Union decertified in 2009
The United Steelworkers, Local 2952, had represented the employees at Chances Abbottsford, in British Columbia, since 1997. Chances was a former bingo hall that had been converted into a gaming center. It was clear that some employees weren’t satisfied with the representation they were receiving from the union since employees had unsuccessfully tried to leave the union, or “decertify,” in 2005 and 2008. On their third application, which was filed in July 2009, the employees’ decertification efforts were finally successful and the union’s certification was canceled.
Employees later terminated
By the fall of 2009, Chances was having economic troubles. After reviewing its staffing situation, management decided to reduce the workforce by four people. According to management, the people selected for termination were satisfactory employees, but when compared to others, they were viewed as weaker performers. It terminated the employees in late October 2009.
Across Canada, human rights legislation prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of age. This applies to all aspects of the employment relationship — job advertisements, application forms, job interviews, hiring decisions, denial of promotional opportunities, and termination decisions.
How can an American resident become a Canadian citizen? Only permanent residents of Canada can apply. Therefore, one must start with applying for permanent resident status. There are various ways to become a permanent resident of Canada. This article will focus on those who apply in the “economic class.”
For those applying in the economic class, there are federal programs that are applicable across Canada as well as provincial programs that may facilitate the process.
No doubt, workplace harassment remains a hot topic in Canada. Another Canadian province, Manitoba, has recently announced that it will join Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and the federal sector in requiring employers to provide protection from workplace harassment.
Quebec employers have been required to deal with protections from psychological harassment since 2004. Their experience has helped determine when behavior crosses the line from a work conflict to harassment. A recent Quebec case, Gougeon v. Cheminées Sécurité International ltée, illustrates this fine line and demonstrates the importance of preventive measures and a prompt response to a complaint.
Julie is an IT consultant working for NoProblemo! Tech Solutions (NP), a technology consultancy. Julie has worked at NP for six years, is well-educated, and has important certifications and transportable skills. What can NP do to reduce the risk of her being hired away by a client?
Signing a noncompete agreement can potentially provide some assurance that former employees will not start up or join the competing business across the street. In the absence of a noncompete agreement, employers often try to rely on their former employees’ fiduciary duties to combat competition. Unfortunately, Alberta’s Court of Appeal has recently confirmed, in KOS Oilfield Transportation Ltd. V. Mitchell, that common-law fiduciary duties do not generally prevent former employees from working for a competitor.
By David Wong
Attendance management programs themselves aren’t discriminatory — they just need to be carefully designed and properly applied. Such is the latest conclusion in continuing litigation between Coast Mountain Bus Company Ltd. and the Canadian Auto Workers, a battle over an attendance management program covering transit operators in the Greater Vancouver region in British Columbia.