Until recently, the damages awarded by Canadian human rights tribunals, courts, and arbitrators across the country for human rights violations were relatively modest. In the past few years, we have seen those awards increase, although not to an outrageous level. But that might all be changing, as two recent decisions out of Western Canada—one out of British Columbia and the other out of Alberta—suggest. 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…
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…
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.
When the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (San Francisco) affirmed an order certifying the largest employment discrimination class action ever in the United States, Wal-Mart was left facing a class of up to 1.5 million members. Employers were left wondering just how big and powerful these opponents might get.
On December 6, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to a review. U.S. employers are hoping the Supreme Court’s decision will put more restrictions on employment class actions. Canadian employers will want to stay tuned. Class actions south of the border can inspire similar litigation in Canada.
Across Canada, human rights legislation prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of age. This applies to all aspects of the employment relationship — job advertisements, application forms, job interviews, hiring decisions, denial of promotional opportunities, and termination decisions.
By David Wong
Attendance management programs themselves aren’t discriminatory — they just need to be carefully designed and properly applied. Such is the latest conclusion in continuing litigation between Coast Mountain Bus Company Ltd. and the Canadian Auto Workers, a battle over an attendance management program covering transit operators in the Greater Vancouver region in British Columbia.
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…