Determining the legitimacy of an employee’s illness is a tricky situation for employers across Canada. The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench recently took a firm stance on the abuse of sick leave and found in favor of the employer in Telus Communications Inc. v. Telecommunications Workers’ Union. Telus was correct in firing an employee who said he was too sick to go to work but well enough to play in a softball tournament. The court even declined to take the usual step of sending the matter back for a new arbitration hearing. read more…
A few weeks ago, we reported on the recent decision in Baker v. Navistar Canada Inc., which confirmed that unionized employees aren’t able to bring employment claims to court. Rather, these claims must be brought within the framework of the special legal relationship between the union and the employer, either by way of a grievance or a complaint to the respective Labour Relations Board if there are grounds to do so.
But what about human rights issues – where should a unionized employee address those? And can a unionized employee pursue claims in both arbitration and human rights forums? A recent case from the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, Mahdi v. Hertz Canada, says “no.” read more…
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…
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.
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.
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.
Can an employer require a single parent to start occasionally working the night shift? A recent board of arbitration decision out of Alberta answered — yes. This Alberta decision is the latest in our coverage of decisions wrestling with the workplace application of discrimination on the basis of family status. (We also have reported on the Falardeau decision, and the Power Stream decisions. See our posts titled To What Extent Must Employees’ Family Obligations Be Accommodated and What Happens When Child Care and Work Conflict — More Guidance for Employers.)
As we reported four weeks ago (Shocking Arbitration Decision in Ontario), a prominent Canadian arbitrator recently ordered the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) to pay more than $500,000 in damages, finding that it failed to take reasonable steps to ascertain the truth about an employee’s medical condition and fired her for sick leave fraud. The question is whether the door to higher damage awards in Canadian labor relations just got a whole lot wider.
On February 19, 2004, the grievor (a 23-year employee with a clean record) underwent arthroscopic surgery as a result of a workplace knee injury. On February 24, her surgeon wrote a note authorizing her to be off work for four weeks to recuperate.