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Could human rights law increase some kinds of discrimination?

Here’s a question that probably few lawmakers are interested in asking themselves: does human rights legislation make the people it is designed to protect less desirable to employers?


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Pension reforms are coming to Ontario (and Canada, too)

But who’s going to explain them to you? Or maybe more importantly, who’s going to explain whether the changes mean anything to you?


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Workplace violence and harassment prevention measures now law

Following my December 14 blog post , the Ontario government gave royal assent to Bill 168, Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Violence and Harassment in the Workplace) 2009, on December 15, 2009. As we stated…


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The importance of cross-training

I’m sure you are wondering where this blog post is leading to and why I would think cross-training employees important. Well, the near-miss pandemic phase made me think,…


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Ontario Bill 168 passes: workplace violence and harassment prevention addressed

Ontario Bill 168, the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Violence and Harassment in the Workplace) 2009 finally passed third reading on December 9, 2009 and is awaiting royal assent to become law. The bill will come into force six months after it receives royal assent (which is expected sometime mid-2010), and will make a number of significant changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). New provisions will require employers to take precautions to prevent and protect workers from violence, harassment and domestic violence that could take place in the workplace. This means all employers will have to address the issue of violence and harassment prevention on both a human rights and a health and safety perspective.


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Workplace or soap opera? (Part 2)

Many people argue that workplace gossip is harmless and in fact brings co-workers together as friends, increasing trust and honesty. However, if you watch soaps, you know where this can lead. In the right (or wrong) hands, even a superficially innocuous complaint or tidbit of information can grow way out of proportion, leading often to disastrous (and on television, often humorous) results. On TV, there always seems to be someone waiting for that bit of incriminating evidence with the intention to wreak havoc on someone else’s life! One hopes this is not quite the case in real-life workplaces.


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Workplace or soap opera? (Part 1)

Anyone who watches soap operas (Coronation Street is my favourite), shows like Desperate Housewives or reality television knows that gossip is a great way to drive a fictional plot forward. In fact, without gossip, TV would be a wasteland of talk shows, game shows, sports, documentaries and news. (And I don’t mean celebrity news!) Heck, without gossip, our lives would probably be far less interesting—until we found something else to talk about.



When should damages for bad faith in dismissal be awarded?

According to the Supreme Court, “The Damages Formerly Known As Wallace” (damages for bad faith in the course of dismissal) are to be compensatory rather than arbitrary extensions of the notice period. But what if the employer acted in bad faith, but the employee didn’t suffer any damages? What circumstances should justify an award?


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Employer branding: a hot topic?

I recently read an interesting blog post on Brand For Talent. The author, Libby Sartain, says that organizations across the globe are struggling with their reputations as employers. Those employers need to engage their workers as fans, while reaching out for new workers as the economy begins its turnaround. She also asks: is there a difference between corporate branding and employer branding? Well, according to Sartain, there is. While companies such as Apple and Nike are able to rely on the power and strength of their corporate brand to attract talent, this is not the case for companies with less powerful brands.


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Genetic discrimination in the workplace

I first wrote about genetic discrimination in the workplace in August of 2004. At that time, I compared it to the movie Gattaca, in which a man tries to hide his “imperfect” genetic makeup so that he can enjoy a way of life and secure a job reserved for people without “flawed” genes. Although Gattaca is science fiction, the movie’s plot is not that remote from present-day reality.


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Environmental sensitivities: have they affected your workplace?

Imagine this: a customer enters your office or store and very quickly suffers an attack of some sort, causing her to break out in hives and have difficulty breathing. Employees remove her from the store, but she’s in such a state that she has to go to the hospital. You later discover that the customer suffers from environmental sensitivities, and unfortunately she had her first major attack at your workplace. Oh, and she claims she can no longer work because of the episode, so she’s suing you for damages and lost wages.


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What are you dressed up as?

Halloween costumes often provoke this question in people and I wonder why. We seem to have a strong need to label or categorize people. We even want to do this on festive occasions when the whole point is to have fun!


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Andrew Lawson is happy to be aboard

I am honoured to have this opportunity to share with you my insights and ideas in the important and ever-changing area of workplace human rights and occupational health & safety. Looking forward to a lively and interactive online exchange!


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Employer holiday parties: some useful tips

However limited an organization’s party budget is, most of them still use the holiday season to show their employees their appreciation for their year-long efforts by holding a holiday party on or off company premises. In the last several years, however, many organizations have looked carefully at how they approach the annual holiday party, for legal and economical reasons.


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Tribunal awards $35,000 to fired pregnant employee

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal recently awarded a woman $35,000 after her employer fired her when she revealed on her first day of work that she was four months pregnant. (The award covered $20,000 in lost wages and benefits, and $15,000 for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.) In addition to the damage award, given the overwhelming number of women working for the employer, the tribunal ordered the company to implement and distribute a written policy on the accommodation of pregnancy to ensure future compliance.


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