Free labor or future liability? Unpaid internships in Canada also pose issues

July 14, 2013 - by: Julia Kennedy 0 COMMENTS

By Julia Kennedy

With each summer comes a wave of new graduates and returning students looking for ways to gain career experience. This summer, the media spotlight has been focused on the nature of unpaid internships in the United States and Canada. They are no longer limited to the not-for-profit sector. It’s probably a good time for employers in Canada who have some sort of internship program to reassess whether what seems like free labor is actually a liability in disguise. read more…

How far-reaching will the Irving Pulp & Paper decision be?

July 07, 2013 - by: Clayton Jones 0 COMMENTS

By Clayton Jones

Last week we told you about the recent decision in Irving Pulp & Paper where the Supreme Court of Canada severely limited an employer’s right to perform random alcohol and drug testing in the workplace. The implications of the Irving decision will undoubtedly be far-reaching, including on two prominent cases currently being heard by arbitrators in Alberta and British Columbia that deal with random drug testing–Suncor Energy and Teck (Coal). read more…

Supreme Court rejects random alcohol testing policy in dangerous workplace

June 30, 2013 - by: Northern Exposure 1 COMMENTS

By Kyla Stott-Jess, Katie Clayton, and Hannah Roskey

Canada’s highest court has ruled that random drug and alcohol testing in the workplace violates privacy rights. In Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 30 v. Irving Pulp & Paper Ltd., the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) considered the validity of a random alcohol testing policy in a unionized workplace. In a 6-3 decision, the SCC agreed with the original arbitration board decision to strike down the employer’s mandatory drug and alcohol testing policy. read more…

Managing the message in the hiring process in Canada: human rights risks

June 23, 2013 - by: Marc Rodrigue 0 COMMENTS

By Marc Rodrigue

Hiring a new employee can be a lengthy process, fraught with complex evaluations of skills, qualifications, and other attributes. The whole process must of course comply with applicable provincial and federal antidiscrimination laws.

What people say during the process may provide evidence that a hiring decision is discriminatory. Where multiple people are involved, the risk increases that remarks are made that are perceived as discriminatory. As one employer in Ontario recently discovered in Reiss v. CCH Canadian Limited, failure to manage the message to candidates can lead to a successful human rights claim even if the decision itself was proper. read more…

Facebook postings fair game for employers

June 16, 2013 - by: Frederic Parisien 0 COMMENTS

By Frederic Parisien

Can Canadian employers use information from their employees’ Facebook pages in managing the employment relationship? Not an age-old question, but one debated in recent years.

In many provinces, the answer was “yes.” But in other provinces, such as Quebec, some commentators took a more cautious approach. In a recent decision, the appeal division of Quebec’s Workers’ Compensation Board (the Commission des lésions professionnelles) said “yes,” Canadian employers may use information learned from their employees’ Facebook account if there is nothing to suggest that the account’s contents were accessed using fraudulent schemes, subterfuges, or other underhanded means. read more…

Progressive discipline prevails—even where harassment proven

June 09, 2013 - by: Keri Bennett 0 COMMENTS

By Keri Bennett

When a long-service costume designer was dismissed following a workplace harassment investigation, a British Colombia arbitrator found the company’s no-hire ban for all future productions to be excessive, since there was a lack of progressive discipline.

Despite finding that the fired employee had engaged in longstanding and widespread harassment of junior employees, the arbitrator in Warner Bros. Television (B.C.) Inc. ruled that even the least remorseful of employees is entitled to an opportunity to change his or her behavior.

read more…

Expansion of workplace harassment and violence reprisal complaints?

June 02, 2013 - by: Rosalind Cooper 0 COMMENTS

By Rosalind H. Cooper

Most occupational health and safety statutes across Canada contain provisions that prohibit employer reprisals for workplace health and safety matters. While the outcome of complaints made by workers regarding employer reprisals is always fact specific, employers had been taking comfort from several recent decisions.

Those decisions suggested that complaints regarding employer reprisals in relation to allegations of workplace harassment couldn’t be sustained under health and safety legislation. However, a recent decision of the Ontario Labour Relations Board in Ashworth v. Boston Pizza, where an employee was terminated after her manager allegedly confronted her in an angry manner, has changed this view. read more…

U.S. employment agreement ruled inapplicable after transfer to British Columbia

May 26, 2013 - by: Katherine Pollock 0 COMMENTS

By Katherine Pollock

A recent decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal, Stanley v. Advertising Directory Solutions, considered the rights of an employee of a U.S. company who was working for a Canadian subsidiary when terminated. The court found she was entitled to notice or pay in lieu of notice upon termination according to Canadian law. This despite a written agreement with the U.S. parent that said she was employed at will.

The court ruled that an agreement with a U.S. parent company won’t permit a Canadian company, which is also the person’s employer, to avoid its obligation to provide reasonable notice or pay in lieu of notice of termination. read more…

Canada’s temporary foreign worker program set to change

May 19, 2013 - by: Thora Sigurdson 0 COMMENTS

By Thora A. Sigurdson

Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) has been under fire of late. Temporary foreign workers sued Denny’s. Latin American tunnel diggers brought a human rights complaint against SELI. A British Columbia union complained that miners from China were taking jobs in northern B.C. And the Royal Bank’s decision to contract out received a lot of media attention. The Canadian government has responded by making seven changes to the TFWP.

read more…

Mood problem or mental disorder? When can employers discipline?

May 12, 2013 - by: Kyla Stott-Jess 0 COMMENTS

By Kyla Stott-Jess

Employers in Canada can’t discriminate against employees based on mental disabilities. But the broad interpretation that courts and arbitration boards frequently apply to human rights laws often makes it difficult to know where the boundaries of “mental disability” lie.

In a recent arbitration decision in Ontario, Windsor (City) and WPFFA (Elliot), the arbitrator found that an employee’s mood problems and stress issues weren’t classifiable as mental disorders. He didn’t qualify as having a mental health disability requiring accommodation. read more…

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