Author Archive - Devry Smith Frank LLP
Despite the dramatic increase of women in the workforce and the existence of pay equity legislation, gender wage inequality remains a persistent problem in Canada. As part of an ongoing study on gender disparity for the Globe and Mail, Statistics Canada reported in March 2016 that a woman working full-time makes 73.5 cents for every dollar a man makes. The article also notes that Canada has the eighth highest gender wage gap among 34 industrial countries according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Justice Firestone of the Ontario Superior Court recently decided that back–to–work legislation introduced in 2011 aimed at striking postal workers from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers was an unjustified violation of the Union’s rights to freedom of association and expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As a result, the judge retroactively declared the legislation of no force or effect.
The Supreme Court of British Columbia recently decided that misleading or inaccurate statements made by an employer during pre–employment discussions can result in liability for negligent misrepresentation. In the case before the court, an erroneous statement was made by the representative of the Defendant employer during a pre–employment phone conversation. The statement in question was in reference to the Plaintiff’s eligibility for the Defendant’s long–term disability benefits plan. As a result, damages awarded to the Plaintiff for the negligent misrepresentation totalled nearly $100,000.
In Pourasadi v Bentley Leathers Inc., the Human Rights Tribunal found that accommodating a store manager by permitting the employee not to assist customers was not required, since assisting customers was an essential duty of her position.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly. A prime example of employer misconduct for failing to accommodate and providing reasonable notice is the case of Strudwick v Applied Consumer & Clinical Evaluations Inc. This case highlights a number of important lessons for employers.
Ontario courts are rightly increasing their protection of employees from harassment and assault in the workplace. This case serves as a strong deterrent to employers and employees who do not comprehend or acknowledge the severe implications of their actions.
A recent interim decision of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal addressed whether a miscarriage could constitute a disability for the purposes of human rights legislation.
The question of ‘what constitutes reasonable notice’ is one of the most frequently litigated issues in employment law. There are numerous decisions from every level of court in Ontario which discuss the obligations of an employer to provide a reasonable period of notice to dismissed employees. However, it is a relatively rare occurrence that the Court deals with the inverse – the reasonable period of notice due to an employer by an employee who resigns. While most of us are familiar with the old adage of giving your ‘two weeks’ notice, the recent decision in Gagnon may call into question the sufficiency of such short notice.
Termination of an employment relationship can come in many forms; some apparent and some not so. In the latter case, it often falls to a court to determine whether an employer’s actions constitute dismissal or constructive dismissal. This was the issue faced by Justice Lack in the recent decision of Sweeting v Mok.
As of November 20, 2015, changes to Ontario’s employment laws came into effect with the aim of better protecting precarious and foreign workers.
In Kielb v. National Money Mart Company, a dismissed employee sought to have the termination and limitation clauses in his employment agreement found unenforceable. His goal was to recover his bonus for the year during which he was terminated, as well as his contractual pay in lieu of notice, which he waived, in accordance with his employment contract, when he refused to provide Money Mart with a full and final release after his termination.
In Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 1716 v. British Columbia Assessment Authority, the union filed a policy grievance after a new management policy was put in place in the Kelowna office of the British Columbia Assessment Authority. The new policy banned the wearing of blue jeans or shorts in the office by all employees on days that they were not in the field in settings where jeans were appropriate, for example on farm locations.
It is clear from the relevant statutory and regulatory provisions under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 that an employee whose contract is frustrated on account of illness or injury is entitled to both termination pay and severance pay.
The Apology Act is lesser-known piece of Ontario legislation which came into force in 2009. The Act allows defendants in a civil proceeding to communicate sorrow or regret to the other party, without their apology being used against them later in court.