If you have ever thought it wouldn’t be worth the cost to investigate an employee’s criminal misconduct, the recent decision in Canada Safeway Limited v. Brown,  B.C.J. No. 2400 (S.C.) might make you reconsider. Not only was the employee ordered to pay back the money she stole, the judge tacked on six times that amount to cover the costs incurred by the employer in investigating and prosecuting the employee.
As a cashier and customer service representative for Canada Safeway, a major grocery store chain in Western Canada, Sharon Brown had unsupervised access to the company’s cash and accounting records. When Safeway began experiencing cash and inventory shortages, it installed surveillance equipment and assigned its security officer to investigate. Lo and behold, Safeway discovered that Ms. Brown was processing fraudulent refunds and pocketing the cash.
Labor laws in Canada provide that the purchaser of a business will generally “take over” any collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) between a union and the vendor. The purchaser becomes the “successor employer” and becomes bound by the vendor’s existing CBAs. In this situation, the union continues to represent unionized employees after the sale or transfer of the business to the new owners or operators.
In addition to the continuation of bargaining rights after a sale or transfer, two companies that are under “common control or direction” can be held to constitute a single or common employer for labor relations purposes. Such a finding can mean that the union’s bargaining unit encompasses employees of both companies.
When employees are terminated in Canada, unless they have been fired for “cause” (such as theft) employers have an obligation to provide common law “reasonable notice” of termination or pay in lieu of reasonable notice.
Unless the amount of reasonable notice is clearly set out in an employment agreement, it will be assessed in a court action after an employee has been terminated. The courts consider factors such as age, length of service, the nature of the position, and the likelihood of the employee finding reemployment in deciding how much reasonable notice to award.
A recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal places new limits on a trial judge’s ability to award damages for conduct on the part of an employer during the termination process that is said to amount to “bad faith.”
While it’s an Ontario decision, it can be expected to have broad ramifications across Canada.
Chalk one up for employers! In an era when the courts seem to be on a slippery slope of broadening employee rights, Canada’s highest court has given employers a break when it comes to assessing the costs of dismissing an employee without cause.
The British Columbia Court of Appeal just issued an important decision about an employee’s right to make a statute-based overtime claim in a civil action. The decision, Macaraeg v. E Care Contact Centers Ltd., should make BC employers very happy. And it may provide a new defense to overtime pay class actions in other Canadian jurisdictions as well.
Avoiding a dangerous trap
The BC Employment Standards Act applies to most employees in British Columbia with some limited exceptions. It requires employers to pay overtime pay to employees if they are required or “directly or indirectly” allowed to work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week.