Author Archive - Christina Catenacci
On March 15, 2017, Bill 51, An Act to Amend the Human Rights Act, received first reading in the New Brunswick legislature, and second reading the next day. The goal of the changes is to modernize the legislation and increase its efficiency. Indeed, this has been the first extensive review of the legislation in 25 years. These changes come on the 50th anniversary of the Human Rights Act. The ultimate goal of the review was to evolve with society and ensure that values are protected. Bill 51 aims to do just this.
Genetic discrimination provisions in human rights legislation: Will Ontario be the first Canadian jurisdiction?
Canada is on its way to including provisions in human rights legislation that prevents discrimination based on a person’s genetic characteristics. The issue is that a person can experience discrimination and harassment simply because of something that may be—something that has the potential of happening. Employers must be aware that human rights legislation is in the process of evolving to include provisions to prevent this type of discrimination, and this will apply in the workplace as well.
Noise is a serious health hazard, and if worker exposure is not eliminated or controlled, it can cause permanent hearing loss, physical and psychological stress, reduced productivity, and significant interference with communication causing further accidents and injuries. The Ontario Ministry of Labour has released a revised noise guideline in December 2016 to accompany Ontario Regulation 381/15. Regulation 381/15, effective July 1, 2016, sets out requirements for noise protection in all workplaces in the province.
Under Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), there is nothing that prevents organizations from outsourcing the processing of data inside or outside of Canada—however, organizations must take all reasonable steps to protect that information from unauthorized uses and disclosures when it is in the hands of third party processors. This is where accountability, the first principle in PIPEDA, comes in; and there are obligations to meet regarding training staff that are highly relevant.
You may be wondering, what exactly is “safeguarding” personal information? Thankfully, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has clarified how safeguarding can reduce the risk of privacy breaches.
As an employer, you may be contemplating creating a bring your own device program in the workplace. There are several advantages to having such a program—companies can save a great deal of money and make employees happy by allowing devices in the workplace. However, there are significant concerns that need to be addressed if this is the direction the company wishes to take.
The gender wage gap steering committee recently submitted its final report to the Ontario government. The main finding was that the gender wage gap has not been closing and the government must take action. Further, the committee stated that there is much that employers can do immediately in order to ameliorate the situation.
Bill S-201 would prohibit any person from requiring an individual to undergo a genetic test as a condition of: providing goods or services to that individual; entering into or continuing a contract or agreement with that individual; or offering or continuing specific terms or conditions in a contract or agreement with that individual. Those who contravene the rules would be subject to severe penalties.
July 3, 2016 marked the first time a Canadian Prime Minister marched in Toronto’s Pride parade. But some may be wondering, ‘Do Canadian laws currently protect LGBT rights in the workplace, and have they kept up with the evolving climate of increased inclusion?’ The answer depends on the particular jurisdiction involved because the issue is addressed in human rights legislation across Canada.
Recently, the CSA Group has released a new version of its standard concerning work in confined spaces, entitled Z1006-16 – Management of work in confined spaces. Employers need to be aware that there have been some important changes in this edition that are worth noting. The entire 108 page document can be viewed here.
On March 8, 2016, Ontario Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2016, received Royal Assent. Schedule 4, which deals with changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act regarding workplace harassment, comes into force September 8, 2016. The changes will do a few of the following things.
On March 24, 2016, Ontario Court Justice William Horkins delivered his ruling: Ghomeshi has been acquitted of all sexual assault charges.
Can you think of a store, restaurant, or bar that appears to require women to wear low-cut tops, short skirts, tight dresses, or high heels when they go to work? Well, it might be wise for those employers to take another look at their dress code policy in light of the Ontario Human Rights Commission position on gender-specific dress code announced on International Women’s Day 2016 and the passing into law of occupational health and safety provisions protecting against workplace sexual harassment and violence. Under Bill 132, the OHSA’s definition of “workplace harassment” will be expanded to include “workplace sexual harassment.”
As you may know, a criminal trial, R v Ghomeshi, took place this year to address allegations of sexual assault against several victims and concluded just last week. It was announced that the verdict in the Ghomeshi criminal trial will be handed down March 24, 2016. However, the evidence submitted during the criminal trial and its outcome is very different from the workplace aspect of this case.