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…
It’s common practice across Canada, when settling a discrimination or wrongful termination claim, to agree that the deal will remain confidential. What can an employer do if employees fail to honor that agreement? What if they blab about the settlement to their coworkers? read more…
Modern technology provides many new avenues for human rights violations. As recently learned by the owner of British Columbia-based Metro Aluminum Products, sending sexually-related text messages or photos electronically by mobile phones, also known as sexting, can get you into trouble.
Sexting is getting widespread attention in the media. It’s no longer just an issue amongst electronically exhibitionistic teenagers and Brett Favre — it’s now a common issue in workplaces across Canada.
It’s amazing the issues that pop up in front of human rights tribunals across Canada. Recently, the Manitoba Human Rights Commission was asked whether it is discriminatory to fire an employee for shaving her head. On an equally interesting level, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal was asked whether it is discriminatory to discipline an employee for microwaving food that created an odor unpleasant to other employees. Do either of these scenarios constitute a human rights violation? Not surprisingly, the answer is “it depends.”
But it was for a good cause
In the Manitoba case, a waitress shaved her head to support her uncle, who was battling cancer. After she showed up to work with the shaved head, her boss told her that her new look didn’t comply with the restaurant’s dress code. The employer also told her not to return to work.
Dealing with an employee’s religious beliefs is a delicate matter, not only for employers but also for tribunals. The case Friesen v. Fisher Bay Seafood and others, 2009 BCHRT 1 demonstrates the importance of employers fulfilling their duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship.
In this case, an employee was fired when he refused to stop preaching to coworkers during working hours. He claimed discrimination on the basis of religion. His human-rights complaint was dismissed. The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the employer’s demand was a bona fide occupational requirement. The employer had treated the employee with respect and had made sufficient attempts to accommodate his religious beliefs.
The bad news is that one of your employees has just commenced a long-term disability (LTD) leave. You may well have concerns like: (1) Will the employee ever return to work? (2) If so, when? (3) What accommodations would be needed to allow a return to work? (4) What will it all cost?
Your employee is a single parent. He has to drop his children off at school each morning. They can’t be dropped off earlier than 9 a.m. He has to be back at the school by 5 p.m. to pick them up from their after-school care. He has no family to assist him. Is he covered by the family-status protections in some provinces’ human rights legislation? Do you have to accommodate him?
Increasingly, tribunals are being required to examine this issue: What is an employer’s accommodation obligation where an employee’s needs relating to his family status conflict with employment requirements?