It’s well established that discrimination against an employee on the basis of a physical or mental disability is prohibited in Canada. Drug or alcohol addictions constitute a “disability” under most human rights legislation such that employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees on the basis of their addictions.
The Alberta Court of Appeal has recently added to the ongoing debate in Canada over who is or isn’t an employer in the human rights context. In its recent decision in 375850 Alberta Ltd. v. Beverly Noel and the Director of the Alberta Human Rights Commission, the dismissal of the complainant’s appeal illustrates that naming the correct employer is vital to the outcome. read more…
Canadian courts have been reluctant to allow random drug and alcohol testing in most workplaces. The issue was recently back before the Alberta Court of Appeal. Oil Company Suncor appealed an injunction against its new proposed drug and alcohol testing policy. read more…
Canadian courts continue to struggle with clauses in employment contracts that contain post-employment noncompetition and nonsolicitation clauses, known as “restrictive covenants.” This is an important issue in Canada, where there is no concept of “at will” employment, and all employees are deemed to have some form of employment contact. But not all terms are equally enforceable.
The recent split decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal in Globex Foreign Exchange Corporation v. Kelcher, 2011 ABCA 240, provides an interesting reminder of the uncertainty in the law in this area. It also provides good lessons to those who want employees to agree to such restrictions.
Canadian employers that fear large jury awards in wrongful dismissal cases can breathe a little easier in the wake of a recent Alberta Court of Appeal decision. In Elgert v. Home Hardware Stores Ltd., the court of appeal said a $500,000 jury award for aggravated and punitive damages in a wrongful dismissal case was too high, reducing it to $75,000.
In the spring of 2002 the Home Hardware Distribution Centre in Wetaskawin, Alberta, fired Daniel Elgert without notice. He had worked for Home Hardware 17 years and was a supervisor at the distribution center when two female coworkers made sexual harassment complaints against him. Following the complaints, Home Hardware immediately suspended Elgert and engaged in what the court of appeal described as a perfunctory investigation that presumed his guilt.
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 Alix Herber
While many employees are allowed to access and use the Internet and e-mail on company computers for “limited” personal use, it’s not uncommon for them to misuse this privilege. In Poliquin v. Devon Canada Corporation, the Alberta Court of Appeal was asked whether an employee could be fired for cause because he used his employer’s computer and Internet access to view and disseminate pornographic and racist materials in violation of the employer’s code of conduct. According to the Alberta Court of Appeal, the answer was yes.
Poliquin worked for Devon Canada for 26 years supervising between 20 and 25 employees. When he was fired for using the company’s computer to view and transmit pornographic and racist materials, he sued Devon Canada.
Keays vs. Honda One Year Later: Have Canadian Courts Changed Their Approach to Punitive and Bad Faith Damages?
It has been just over a year since the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) issued its decision in Keays v. Honda Canada Inc. (Read our analysis of the court’s decision in that case). That decision mandated a change in Canadian courts’ approach to awarding damages in employment cases. Damages for bad faith conduct by the employer (Wallace damages) and punitive damages were to be awarded only in exceptional circumstances.
So just what have Canadian courts been doing since? Has their approach to such damages really changed? A review of the decisions in the past year suggests they have.