Ontario Court Allows Salespersons to Ignore Noncompetes

October 14, 2008 - by: Brian Smeenk 0 COMMENTS

by Brian Smeenk

In an important recent decision, Ontario’s Court of Appeal has reconfirmed that noncompetition clauses will be enforced against departing employees only in exceptional circumstances. It allowed two insurance salespersons to take many of their clients to a competing insurance broker despite their contractual agreement to the contrary.

What happened?
Tim Allan and Jeff Kienapple worked for H.L. Staebler Company Limited. They sold commercial insurance (property, casualty, and automobile) to businesses. Because they were unhappy with new management, they resigned and immediately began working in a similar capacity for Stevenson & Hunt Insurance Brokers.

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Categories: Employment Contracts

Overtime Class Action Against KPMG Settled

October 07, 2008 - by: Karen Sargeant 0 COMMENTS

by Karen Sargeant

As we reported earlier this year, 2007 saw three overtime class action lawsuits in Canada — a $651 million class-action lawsuit filed against the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), followed quickly by a $20 million class action against KPMG and then a $350 million class action against a second major Canadian Bank, Scotiabank. Another class action, for $250 million, was filed against CN Railway in March 2008.

In September, the Ontario Superior Court approved a settlement of the KPMG case, making it the first of the class-action lawsuits to be settled. To resolve the class action, KPMG agreed to an overtime redress plan.

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Is wrongful dismissal litigation reform coming to Canada?

September 30, 2008 - by: Karen Sargeant 0 COMMENTS

by Karen Sargeant

Can fired employees afford to take their prior employers to court? Are trials too expensive? Are there better ways to secure justice for employees? These are some of the questions a group of lawyers in Ontario, Canada, have been considering.

Earlier this year, the Chief Justice of Ontario expressed concerns that employees can’t afford to “get their day in court.” He said that we should examine how to improve access to justice in employment cases. To that end, the Ontario Bar Association struck a Task Force on Wrongful Dismissal, which is in the process of considering various changes. The following changes are being discussed.

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Will the U.S economy affect business, workers in Canada?

September 23, 2008 - by: Brian Smeenk 1 COMMENTS

by Brian Smeenk

Wall Street has seldom been in such disarray. There are bank and insurance company failures the likes of which we haven’t seen since 1929. The credit markets have been in disarray for months. The federal government rescue packages will significantly affect the deficit. Many are predicting a recession in the USA. How has this and how will it affect business and employment in Canada?

Although the Canadian and U.S. economies are inextricably linked, you’d never know it by looking at recent statistics. Despite the fact that American investors have historically been central to helping generate economic activity in Canada, there seems to be little evidence so far that the financial and housing market problems in the United States have slowed the Canadian economy.

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Can You Unilaterally Change an Employment Contract?

September 16, 2008 - by: Brian Smeenk 1 COMMENTS

by Brian Smeenk

Suppose you want to change an important term of your Canadian employee’s employment contract, such as the bonus plan, future salary adjustments or the termination package. Can you do it without the employee’s agreement? If so, how?

Western Inventory Service Ltd. recently found out the hard way that it couldn’t unilaterally alter an important part of an executive’s contract — his severance package — without first terminating the contract. That termination made the company liable for the very severance package it was seeking to reduce, plus most of the executive’s legal costs.

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Imminent Canadian federal election unlikely to affect labor law

September 09, 2008 - by: Karen Sargeant 0 COMMENTS

by Karen Sargeant

Americans are not the only ones going to the polls for a federal election this year. Canadians are on their way, too. Despite a planned federal election for October 2009, the Prime Minister just called a federal election, to take place on October 14, 2008.

So how would this election affect labor laws in Canada? The answer may be “not much.”

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Categories: Employment Law

Canadian employees fired for inappropriate blogging

September 02, 2008 - by: Karen Sargeant 0 COMMENTS

by Karen Sargeant

We have all read a lot about employers monitoring employees’ computer use and whether employees can be fired for inappropriate computer use at work. What about inappropriate computer use at home? Can employees in Canada be fired for that? Two recent decisions say yes.

In both cases, one from Alberta and one from Ontario, employees were fired for blogging about their workplaces. Although the blogs were the employees’ personal blogs, the content in the blogs justified their terminations for cause.

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Provincial labor force differences across Canada

August 26, 2008 - by: Brian Smeenk 0 COMMENTS

by Brian P. Smeenk

Canada is a diverse country. Its ten provinces and three territories are endowed with varying natural resources and have developed their own industrial infrastructures and labour markets. Nevertheless, education is always a major factor in the ability to find a job.

So commences a very interesting, recently published study by Statistics Canada on variations in the Canadian labor force from province to province.  While Northern Exposure is primarily focused on labor and employment legal developments, this study warrants our stepping a little out of our comfort zone in order to keep our readers well informed. The report will make interesting reading for employers deciding on where to locate operations or how to best develop your human resources strategies for different regions in Canada.

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Categories: Employer's Tip / Immigration

Wal-Mart gets its first union contract

August 26, 2008 - by: Brian Smeenk 0 COMMENTS

by Brian P. Smeenk

Wal-Mart, which has until now apparently been union-free, has had a union contract imposed on it in Quebec. The contract covers an auto center, Tire & Lube Express, which is part of a store in Gatineau, near the Ontario border. The small group of about eight employees apparently received union certification three years ago.

Under Quebec’s Labour Code, an employer may have a union contract imposed on it by an arbitrator if it is unable to reach a collective agreement with the certified union. The normal bargaining process must first have failed.

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New human rights regime now in force in Ontario

August 19, 2008 - by: Brian Smeenk 0 COMMENTS

by Brian Smeenk

On June 30, 2008, new human rights legislation in Ontario came into force. The new regime radically changes the way in which human rights complaints are dealt with in Ontario. Employers, employees, and unions are watching closely to see how well the new system works.

1. Complainants given direct access to tribunal
Prior to June 30, 2008, complaints in Ontario were made to the Human Rights Commission. From there, the Commission mediated and investigated complaints. At the end of that process, which took four to five years in many cases, the Commission could dismiss a complaint or send it to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario for a full hearing.

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