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.
It’s becoming more and more clear that an employee’s use of social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace may lead to justifiable discipline by an employer. On October 22, 2010, the British Columbia Labour Relations Board released its decision in West Coast Mazda (d.b.a. West Coast Detail & Accessory Centre) and UFCW Local 1518, in which it dismissed the union’s unfair labor practice complaint and agreed that the employer’s decision to terminate two employees for their Facebook postings during certification was appropriate.
The facts and timeline in this case are critical: The union applied for certification on August 26; the employer received notice of this application on August 27; and the union was certified one week later on September 8, 2010. There were three key individuals involved in this case: one employee who was a key inside organizer with four years’ service; a second employee who was also a union supporter with two years’ service; and a third employee, the manager, with over four years’ service. All three individuals were “friends” on Facebook.
In Canada, employers have a duty to accommodate individuals suffering from a disability to the level of undue hardship. In the case of an employee with a physical disability, it often can be relatively straightforward to identify accommodations that can be implemented.
The Quebec Superior Court recently upheld an arbitration award against Wal-Mart regarding the closure of its store in the town of Jonquière in 2005. That closure is now also affecting Wal-Mart elsewhere in Canada. The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal recently indicated that Wal-Mart’s actions in Quebec possibly could be perceived as an intimidation tactic against Saskatchewan employees. Here is an update of the cases.
In February 2005, after the Jonquière workers had voted to become the first unionized Wal-Mart store in North America, the company announced it was closing the store. It did so on April 29, 2005. About 190 employees were laid off.
The much-awaited appeal decision in Fresco v. CIBC was released in September. The appeal court declined to interfere with the original decision of Justice Lax. She had denied Dara Fresco’s bid to bring a class action against CIBC for unpaid overtime.
This is one of three high-profile cases we have been following, in which employees are seeking to bring class actions for millions of dollars in unpaid overtime. In any class action the one bringing the suit must show that there are common issues, the resolution of which will advance the litigation for everyone. It has become clear that the “common issues challenge” is very much alive when it comes to overtime claims.
When a warehouse worker was injured in a car accident in 2008, his employer did the right thing: Maersk Distribution accommodated his graduated return to work and provided him with light duties.
Maersk stepped up again when the employee’s shoulder injury was further aggravated. But when the economy took a turn for the worse, Maersk laid him off because of his disability. A labor arbitrator has now found that the employer’s human rights “duty to accommodate” substantially changed when its business was sideswiped by the crashing economy.
By Susan Bradley and Gilda Villaran
In November 2009, we started a discussion on the fundamentals of Canadian work permits. Until now, Canadian employers didn’t have to obtain a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) from Services Canada for certain information technology (IT) professionals. Employers didn’t have to prove that they had advertised the position, that they had conducted reasonable recruitment efforts and that none of the local candidates, if any, were qualified to fill the IT position.
Beginning in 1997, it was assumed that there was a shortage of IT professionals in Canada. This assumption and the exception to the LMO requirement are no longer. Effective September 30, 2010, foreign IT specialists generally require an approved LMO from Services Canada before a work permit will be issued.
By Ida Martin
This December, the Supreme Court of Canada is set to hear a case involving the issue of whether the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has the authority to grant legal costs to a successful complainant. In an area of law where legal costs often dwarf the actual amount of any award, the Supreme Court of Canada decision could have major ramifications for human rights litigation across Canada.
Audio Conference: Operating in Canada: New Dos and Don’ts for Employers