When what’s good for business isn’t good employment law: What warrants termination for cause?

September 30, 2012 0 COMMENTS

by Kyla Stott-Jess

Is a Canadian employer justified in terminating an employee for cause when that employee has disobeyed company policy? What if the consequences of the employee’s failure to follow policy put other employees at serious risk of harm? Not necessarily, said the Ontario Supreme Court recently in Barton v. Rona Ontario Inc.

Rather, the potential severity of any misconduct must be balanced against the employee’s attitude and past history when evaluating whether termination for cause is warranted.

Background

Kerry Barton was a longtime employee of Rona until the company fired him for cause in 2009. At the time of termination, Barton was the assistant store manager in Barrie, Ontario, and was responsible for managing about 140 employees. He had received good performance appraisals and had no disciplinary record. read more…

Independent contractor’s behavior can lead to criminal liability for employers

September 23, 2012 0 COMMENTS

By Antonio Di Domenico

On Christmas Eve 2009, a swing stage (a work platform) suspended on the 14th floor of an Ontario apartment building collapsed. Four workers including the site supervisor died after falling to the ground.

Metron Construction was charged with criminal negligence causing death under Canada’s Criminal Code. The company’s owner and sole director, Joel Swartz, was charged under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. Both the company and Swartz pleaded guilty. In two decisions, R. v. Metron and R. v. Swartz, both were fined significantly.

The basis for the charges and fines? The expanded scope of criminal liability under Canada’s Criminal Code, which is no longer confined to the “directing mind” of a corporation. Here it applied to an independent contractor. read more…

Canadian Court Broadly Defines ‘Constructor’ in Safety Case

July 17, 2011 0 COMMENTS

By Rosalind Cooper

Which party on a construction project is the “constructor”? While some provinces in Canada use this term, other provinces use slightly different terms, such as prime contractor. All are meant to refer to the party at the workplace that has overall responsibility for health and safety on the construction project. It’s generally that party that’s exposed to the greatest legal liability in terms of safety-related incidents.

“Constructor” obligations

For example, under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), constructors have significant obligations. They must ensure that all employers and workers on the project comply with OHSA and the Construction Regulations. The case law has confirmed that constructors will be held to a high standard in meeting those obligations. Therefore many companies go to great lengths to avoid assuming this role on a project.

An Ontario court has recently provided some further guidance on what indicators will be looked at in determining who is a constructor. In the case of R. v. Reid & DeLeye Contractors Ltd., a company was found to be a “constructor,” rather than the construction manager it had contracted to be.

Background

In June of 2005, Reid & DeLeye contracted with a hotel owner to construct a new hotel in Cambridge, Ontario. Reid & DeLeye intended to be the construction manager. The company was responsible for carrying out specific roles during the pre-construction, construction, and post-construction phases of the project.

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Customers Are Persons, Too: Pushing the Boundaries of Reportable Workplace Accidents

July 03, 2011 0 COMMENTS

By Julia Kennedy

Employers may now need to report all serious accidents that take place on their premises — even if no worker is involved or harmed.

Workplace health and safety laws have long been in force in all Canadian provinces to protect workers from hazardous situations and environments. These laws require employers to take measures to protect their employees from injury and to report injuries or deaths. Until recently, it was commonly understood that employers were not required to report incidents in which no worker was involved.

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Toronto’s G20 Summit — Lessons for Employers about High-Security

June 14, 2010 0 COMMENTS

By Patrick Gannon

The G20 Summit of world leaders will be in Toronto June 26-27. The summit is expected to draw considerable attention and thousands of protesters from around the world. Like the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, there will be intensive security measures and lots of potential disruptions.

As the summit will be held at a convention center in the downtown core, it gives rise to many issues for downtown employers. And employers outside the downtown area will be affected too, given that the central hub for commuter trains is in the highest security zone. What can employers expect and how should they respond when faced with this kind of massive, high-security event in their neighborhood? read more…