How the Mighty Have Fallen (Again)

August 16, 2010 - by: Katherine Pollock 0 COMMENTS

by Katherine Pollock

Recently, we learned of a scandal out of the United States that cost a top CEO his job. On August 6, Mark Hurd, the chair, CEO, and president of Hewlett Packard for the past five years, “resigned” under intense pressure from the board.

Mark HurdWhile it was an allegation of sexual harassment that set the wheels of this resignation in motion, it turned out to be a relatively modest item that caused his demise: the fudging of expense reports. The story as reported by the media has application in Canada and reminds us that employees’ conduct at work can have unintended consequences.

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Categories: Termination

Work Permits: Employee Transfers for Canadian Start-Ups

August 09, 2010 - by: Isabelle Dongier 0 COMMENTS

by Isabelle Dongier

In our March 22, 2010 article, we explained the simplified and expedited processes for obtaining a temporary work permit for foreign employees transferred from outside Canada to a Canadian parent, subsidiary, branch or affiliate company. These intracompany transfers provide a significant benefit for companies — they exempt them from demonstrating their reasonable efforts to fill the position with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

One of the requirements to meet the intracompany exemption is that both the Canadian and the foreign company are doing business at the time of the application. They must be regularly, systematically and continuously providing goods and services in their respective countries. What about when the Canadian company is being set-up and not yet doing business in Canada at the time of the application? In that case, special guidelines for a start-up may apply.

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Categories: Immigration

Background Check Program Upheld as Reasonable Exercise of Management Rights

August 02, 2010 - by: Hadiya Roderique 1 COMMENTS

By Hadiya Roderique

In Canada, pre-employment background checks are generally permissible. With some exceptions in some provinces, these checks can include information about a candidate’s employment history, education, credit, fingerprints, and criminal record. Though Canadian employers can generally conduct such checks on potential or current employees if they have their consent, the legitimacy and permissibility of the use of criminal background checks by employers has come under fire.

In several recent decisions, unions, employees, arbitrators, and courts have questioned whether an employer’s need to access this information outweighs an employee’s right to privacy. The recent decision of Arbitrator Watters in Re Diageo Canada Inc. and C.A.W.-Canada, Local 2098 has added to the criminal background check dialogue.

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Preaching on the Job Results in Termination for Cause

July 26, 2010 - by: Dominique Launay 1 COMMENTS

By Dominique Launay

Dealing with an employee’s religious beliefs is a delicate matter, not only for employers but also for tribunals. The case Friesen v. Fisher Bay Seafood and others, 2009 BCHRT 1 demonstrates the importance of employers fulfilling their duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship.

In this case, an employee was fired when he refused to stop preaching to coworkers during working hours. He claimed discrimination on the basis of religion. His human-rights complaint was dismissed. The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the employer’s demand was a bona fide occupational requirement. The employer had treated the employee with respect and had made sufficient attempts to accommodate his religious beliefs.

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Is Requiring Single Parent to Work Night Shift Family Status Discrimination?

July 19, 2010 - by: Northern Exposure 1 COMMENTS

by Ralph Nero and Ida Martin

Can an employer require a single parent to start occasionally working the night shift? A recent board of arbitration decision out of Alberta answered — yes. This Alberta decision is the latest in our coverage of decisions wrestling with the workplace application of discrimination on the basis of family status. (We also have reported on the Falardeau decision, and the Power Stream decisions. See our posts titled To What Extent Must Employees’ Family Obligations Be Accommodated and What Happens When Child Care and Work Conflict — More Guidance for Employers.)

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Monitoring Employees’ E-messages — Impact of Recent U.S. Ruling for Canada

July 11, 2010 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Derek Knoechel and Lorene Novakowski

On June 17, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its much anticipated decision in City of Ontario v. Quon. This was its first decision regarding the monitoring of electronic communications in the workplace by employers.

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Managing LTD Claims: Less Pain, More Gain

July 05, 2010 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Suzanne Porteous and Wendy Wang

The bad news is that one of your employees has just commenced a long-term disability (LTD) leave. You may well have concerns like: (1) Will the employee ever return to work? (2) If so, when? (3) What accommodations would be needed to allow a return to work? (4) What will it all cost?

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Canadian Court Not Prepared to Act as Workplace Referee

June 28, 2010 - by: Sara Parchello 1 COMMENTS

By Sara Parchello

Does an employer have a broad obligation to protect employees from mental distress that may be caused in the workplace? Ontario’s Court of Appeal recently answered this question in Piresferreira v. Ayotte and Bell Mobility Inc. with a resounding “no.” The decision reverses, in part, an award made back in 2008 – where an employee was awarded over half a million dollars in damages after her boss pushed her on the shoulder and verbally abused her during a workplace dispute.

Background
Piresferreira was a 60-something account manager who had worked with Bell Mobility for about 10 years. She reported to Richard Ayotte, a person known to be a “critical, demanding, loud and aggressive manager.” He was known to pound his fists on the desk, yell, and swear at his employees, and act in other intimidating ways toward employees. Piresferreira, on the other hand, was known to be a sensitive employee who didn’t take well to criticism.

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Beware the Perils of Firing Employee-Shareholders

June 21, 2010 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Stephen Acker and Julia Kennedy

As we have repeatedly reported, courts are finding new ways to put money in former employees’ pockets in Canada. Another example is the Ontario Court of Appeal’s recent decision in Link v. Venture Steel Inc. and Ruben Rivas, where it agreed with the trial judge’s decision awarding a former employee more than $4 million in damages. Only $550,000 of the damages was pay in lieu of notice. The bulk of the damages related to shares that had been improperly purchased by the employer at the time it terminated the employee’s employment for cause.

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Don’t Get Tangled Up in Duct Tape: Lessons for Employers

June 14, 2010 - by: Northern Exposure 1 COMMENTS

By Ida Martin and Brian Smeenk

The City of Mississauga was recently embarrassed by a video of two of its employees duct-taped together. They were squirming around on a table, taped by their hands, torsos, and feet. This was apparently a routine employee hazing. It was leaked to the media by an employee who had had enough. The case provides a good lesson in how employers should not handle such situations.

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