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…
Most occupational health and safety statutes across Canada contain provisions that prohibit employer reprisals for workplace health and safety matters. While the outcome of complaints made by workers regarding employer reprisals is always fact specific, employers had been taking comfort from several recent decisions.
Those decisions suggested that complaints regarding employer reprisals in relation to allegations of workplace harassment couldn’t be sustained under health and safety legislation. However, a recent decision of the Ontario Labour Relations Board in Ashworth v. Boston Pizza, where an employee was terminated after her manager allegedly confronted her in an angry manner, has changed this view. read more…
No doubt, workplace harassment remains a hot topic in Canada. Another Canadian province, Manitoba, has recently announced that it will join Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and the federal sector in requiring employers to provide protection from workplace harassment.
Quebec employers have been required to deal with protections from psychological harassment since 2004. Their experience has helped determine when behavior crosses the line from a work conflict to harassment. A recent Quebec case, Gougeon v. Cheminées Sécurité International ltée, illustrates this fine line and demonstrates the importance of preventive measures and a prompt response to a complaint.
The City of Mississauga was recently embarrassed by a video of two of its employees duct-taped together. They were squirming around on a table, taped by their hands, torsos, and feet. This was apparently a routine employee hazing. It was leaked to the media by an employee who had had enough. The case provides a good lesson in how employers should not handle such situations.
By Alix Herber
Canada’s two largest provinces — Ontario and Quebec — now have laws requiring employers to seek to provide workplaces free of “harassment.” No longer limited to human rights-related harassment, the term is broadly defined in these laws. Further, Ontario’s new law extends beyond harassment. It, like the federal law, also will require antiviolence policies and programs. These laws will apply regardless of whether a workplace has any prior history of such problems.
Ontario’s Bill 168, the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act, will come into force in June 2010. (See our previous articles on this bill by Karen Sargeant, May 5, 2009, and Brian Smeenk, May 19, 2009.)
ACME Insurance Company employs 500 employees and managers at its Toronto head office. They work in a pleasant, some might even say tranquil, office environment. In the 50-year history of the company, there has never been any hint of violent behavior in the workplace. To the contrary, some people find it too quiet there.
Bawring, Bawring & Yawn is an old accounting firm in Ottawa, serving its faithful, established business clients. It has 30 employees and a dozen partners, many of whom have quietly worked together for decades.
Ontario is looking to reduce violence and harassment in the workplace. To that end,
Bill 168, An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act with respect to violence and harassment in the workplace, received first reading on April 20, 2009. Bill 168, if passed, would amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
The key components of Bill 168 are: read more…