By Édith Charbonneau and Antoine Aylwin
One of your unionized employees files a complaint for psychological harassment and requests to access your investigation report several years later. When you refuse, the employee turns to the Quebec information and privacy board to get that access. But does the information and privacy board have jurisdiction, or could a grievance arbitrator have jurisdiction over such access issues? read more…
By Bill Duvall
As the prognosis for Canada’s economy remains uncertain, the Canadian court system continues to churn out employment cases arising from distressed employers. On this front, two recent cases are of interest. In the first, an Ontario court concludes that employees may not be entitled to statutory severance pay when they are provided with pension bridging and supplementary benefits. In the second, a British Columbia court is more employee-friendly, giving a broad interpretation to the definition of wages.
Ontario employees not entitled to severance pay
In Ontario, employees with at least five years’ service are generally entitled to up to 26 weeks’ severance pay when their employer discontinues its business. Employers are exempt from this severance pay obligation when an employee retires on termination and receives an “actuarially unreduced pension benefit that reflects any service credits which the employee, had the employment not been severed, would have been expected to have earned in the normal course of events for purposes of the pension plan.”
As we reported last week, decision makers across Canada are struggling with the meaning of discrimination on the basis of family status. Last week we looked at a Human Rights Tribunal decision out of British Columbia. This week we look at a recent Ontario arbitration decision, Re Power Stream Inc. and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 636 (Bender et al.). Like the British Columbia case, the arbitrator ruled that not all conflicts between family and work lead to a duty to accommodate on the part of the employer.
The employer in the Ontario case is an electricity distribution company. Under a previous collective agreement, employees had the option of working five eight-hour shifts per week or four 10-hour shifts per week. The 10-hour shift commenced one hour earlier and ended one hour later than the eight-hour shift. While most employees chose the 10-hour shifts, the four grievors chose the eight-hour shifts. That schedule allowed them to more easily fulfill their family responsibilities: read more…
As we have reported before (January 6, 2009, December 2, 2008, and August 26, 2008), Wal-Mart has repeatedly been dealt blows by Canadian courts and other decision-makers. Most recently, an arbitrator in Quebec has weighed in â€“ and it’s more bad news for Wal-Mart in Canada.
Wal-Mart’s store in Jonquiere, Quebec, was certified by the UFCW, Local 503 in 2004. In February 2005, after unsuccessful attempts to negotiate a collective agreement, Wal-Mart publicly indicated its intention to close the store for business reasons â€“ it couldn’t afford to meet the union’s demands. It then gave employees notice of termination effective May 2005, the date on which the store would cease operations.