Can Workplace Surveillance Tapes Be Used as Evidence in Canada?

May 23, 2011 - by: Lorene Novakowski 0 COMMENTS

By Lorene A. Novakowski

Another recent Canadian case dealing with collection of personal information about employees, this time through surveillance, emphasizes the importance of good employment policy language for Canadian employers. In Toronto Catholic School Board v. Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 1280, [2011] O.L.A.A. No. 180, the question was whether surveillance tape evidence was admissible in an arbitration hearing.

In a previous article, we told you about the court decision in R. v. Cole. It was about whether inappropriate images on an employee’s workplace computer could properly be seized. One of the takeaways was that organizations should have clear policy language for employees.

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Protecting Yourself from Canadian Labor Arbitrators’ Expanding Powers

May 16, 2011 - by: Brian Smeenk 0 COMMENTS

By Brian P. Smeenk

How can you protect yourself from arbitrators’ ever-increasing damages awards, based on ever-expanding grounds?

In the April 25 Northern Exposure entry “Canadian Court Trims $500K Dismissal Damages, Upholds Arbitrator’s Broad Authority,” we reported on the latest notable example of a Canadian labor arbitrator’s expansive award being upheld by the courts. That decision surprisingly granted a lower-level Greater Toronto Airport Authority employee $500,000+ for past and future wages, plus damages for mental distress, pain and suffering, and punitive damages. In upholding most of the award, the court clarified the broad remedial authority of labor arbitrators. But it confirmed most of the arbitrator’s powers, at least under that agreement.

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Categories: Arbitration

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Love Lost: Canadian Court Refuses to Defer Buyback of Terminated Employee’s Shares

May 09, 2011 - by: Maria Giagilitsis 0 COMMENTS

By Maria Giagilitsis

Ontario’s highest court recently ruled that an employer’s right to buy back a senior executive’s shares was triggered on his termination date — not the end of the reasonable notice period. Paul R. Love had argued for the later date. His shares had substantially increased in value during the notice period. Love lost.

Facts
As of the termination date, Love had worked for Acuity Investments for only two and a half years. He had accepted the position primarily because he was offered an ownership stake.

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Quebec Employer Not Entitled to Review Employee’s Email to Union

May 02, 2011 - by: Antoine Aylwin 0 COMMENTS

By Antoine Aylwin

A month ago, we reported on the Ontario Court of Appeal’s surprising decision in R. v. Cole.  In that decision the Court of Appeal said that a high school teacher was protected against searches on his work computer by the police absent a search warrant. The Court of Appeal based its decision on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Recently, an arbitrator in Quebec also considered an employee’s Charter rights, this time the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. It said that Laval University violated an employee’s Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms when it reviewed an email sent by the employee — on the university’s systems — to the union.

Facts
At issue was a brief exchange of emails on January 16, 2007: read more…

Canadian Court Trims $500K Dismissal Damages, Upholds Arbitrator’s Broad Authority

April 25, 2011 - by: Julia Kennedy 0 COMMENTS

by Julia Kennedy

A Canadian court recently upheld most of a more than $500,000 arbitration award involving a unionized employee of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA). But it ordered the arbitrator to reconsider the mental distress and punitive damages awards. In doing so, the court clarified the broad remedial authority of arbitrators to award a range of damages. Arbitrators are clearly not limited to reinstatement and lost wages.

A year ago we alerted our readers to this precedent-setting arbitration award (Employee Awarded $500,000 for Bad Faith Termination and Shocking Arbitration Decision in Ontario). A wrongfully dismissed vehicle fleet coordinator was awarded eight years of wages for both past and future employment income losses, damages for mental distress, pain and suffering, and another $50,000 of punitive damages.

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Benefits for Older Employees: Can They Be Excluded?

April 18, 2011 - by: Lindsey Taylor 0 COMMENTS

By Lindsey Taylor

As we have discussed in previous editions, mandatory retirement across Canada is becoming a relic of the past. And employers are beginning to face the ripple effects. One of those ripple effects is benefits entitlement: Can Canadian employees over 65 be excluded from benefits? The answer isn’t clear. As a handful of recent arbitration cases suggest, the answer may depend on what you have negotiated with your union or employees.

Peace River School District
In British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union v. Peace River South School District No. 59, the arbitrator considered whether an employer could terminate its unionized employees’ health benefits at age 65 after mandatory retirement was abolished in British Columbia. Although the collective agreement said benefits would be provided to “all employees,” there was evidence that the parties’ originally negotiated terms of insurance coverage included termination at age 65. Thereafter, they agreed that there would be no change in these terms when they later agreed to change insurers.

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Security Company Failed to Protect One of Its Own Working Alone

April 11, 2011 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Jennifer Shepherd and Katie Clayton

Do you have employees working alone? If so, you may be required to assess your workplace and take measures to reduce risks of possible harm to workers. Indeed, many Canadian provinces require such action. A recent Alberta case demonstrates the tragic outcome that can befall a worker if you fail to conduct a hazard assessment, as well as the significant monetary and criminal penalties your company may face as a result.

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No Sugar in Constructive Dismissal Lawsuits

April 04, 2011 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Alix Herber and Jessica Schnurr

Think an employee in Canada has to quit before suing the employer for constructive dismissal?  Think again, says the Ontario Superior Court.

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What to Do When Your Canadian Employee Is Accused of a Crime

March 28, 2011 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Anthony Houde and Emilie Paquin-Holmested

You are quietly sipping your coffee one Saturday morning and flipping through the newspaper. You suddenly stumble upon an article about one of your Canadian employees. He or she has been accused of committing a criminal offense outside the workplace but has not yet been convicted.

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Employer Has More Latitude than Police to Search Teacher’s Porn-Laden Laptop

March 25, 2011 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Maria Giagilitsis and Brian Smeenk

In a decision released earlier this week, the highest court in Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, issued a surprising ruling on workplace privacy law. The case involved criminal charges against a teacher accused of possession of child pornography.

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