Determining the legitimacy of an employee’s illness is a tricky situation for employers across Canada. The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench recently took a firm stance on the abuse of sick leave and found in favor of the employer in Telus Communications Inc. v. Telecommunications Workers’ Union. Telus was correct in firing an employee who said he was too sick to go to work but well enough to play in a softball tournament. The court even declined to take the usual step of sending the matter back for a new arbitration hearing. read more…
A month ago, we reported on the Ontario Court of Appeal’s surprising decision in R. v. Cole. In that decision the Court of Appeal said that a high school teacher was protected against searches on his work computer by the police absent a search warrant. The Court of Appeal based its decision on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Recently, an arbitrator in Quebec also considered an employee’s Charter rights, this time the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. It said that Laval University violated an employee’s Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms when it reviewed an email sent by the employee — on the university’s systems — to the union.
At issue was a brief exchange of emails on January 16, 2007: read more…
It’s becoming more and more clear that an employee’s use of social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace may lead to justifiable discipline by an employer. On October 22, 2010, the British Columbia Labour Relations Board released its decision in West Coast Mazda (d.b.a. West Coast Detail & Accessory Centre) and UFCW Local 1518, in which it dismissed the union’s unfair labor practice complaint and agreed that the employer’s decision to terminate two employees for their Facebook postings during certification was appropriate.
The facts and timeline in this case are critical: The union applied for certification on August 26; the employer received notice of this application on August 27; and the union was certified one week later on September 8, 2010. There were three key individuals involved in this case: one employee who was a key inside organizer with four years’ service; a second employee who was also a union supporter with two years’ service; and a third employee, the manager, with over four years’ service. All three individuals were “friends” on Facebook.
What should an arbitrator do when a fired employee is too bad to be reinstated, but dismissal was for one reason or another unjustified? Surprisingly, for Canadian arbitrators the answer seems increasingly to be: “Give â€˜em a big payout.” They are increasingly awarding these unsalvageable employees bigger awards than good employees would get in a non-union context. And more than unionized employees would get when losing their job because of redundancy.
A Canadian court recently upheld just such an award â€“ or should we say reward â€“ to an employee who was too disliked and distrusted by all concerned to be put back to work. And the award was more than double what a nonunion employee would receive upon termination without cause.