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Author Archive - Rubin Thomlinson LLP

Rubin Thomlinson LLP is a Toronto-based employment law firm dedicated to finding optimal legal solutions to challenging workplace issues. Rubin Thomlinson provides expert counsel to employees and employers on all legal issues pertaining to the workplace such as hiring, retaining and terminating employees; executive compensation and contracts; accommodation issues; and workplace human rights. Rubin Thomlinson is also considered a leading authority in the area of workplace harassment, and workplace investigations and reviews.

The official word on unofficial bonus policies

On September 25, 2017, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released its decision Fulmer v. Nordstrong Equipment Limited, 2017 ONSC 5529 (“Nordstrong”), where the Court dealt with a wrongful termination case, and issued a noteworthy determination on an employee’s bonus entitlements.

 

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The Wall: Tearing down a poisoned work environment

Although a similar CSI-style wall is unlikely to be recreated in a typical workplace, other examples of pervasive, non-specific harassment may arise. It is incumbent upon leaders at all levels in an organization not just to recognize harassment and potentially, a poisoned work environment, but to take steps to remedy the issues.

 

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Pink jobs vs. blue jobs: Sexism in the skilled trades

In August 2017, the federal government launched a $73 million work-placement program for students through paid co-op opportunities in industries such as science, engineering and skilled trades. This is one of many examples of recent initiatives attempting to attract more people into the skilled trades. Both federal and provincial governments have acknowledged a shortage of workers in the trades and are working on ways to incentivize people – especially women – to enter fields like electrical work, construction and carpentry.

 

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What you don’t know can hurt you: A new wave of WSIB claims for chronic mental stress

On May 17, 2017, Bill 127 (Stronger, Healthier Ontario Act) received Royal Assent. The Bill modified the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to allow WSIB benefits for workers who suffer from chronic mental stress in the course of their employment.

 

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Municipal Integrity Commissioners and Workplace Investigators: Who does what when council members are accused of harassment?

Bill 68, the Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, 2017, received Royal Assent on May 30, 2017. One of the biggest changes introduced by the Bill is the requirement that all municipalities in Ontario have a Code of Conduct and either appoint an Integrity Commissioner, or make arrangements for the Commissioner of another municipality to fulfill the relevant duties.

 

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Departing employees gone rogue

The business consequences of departing employees gone rogue were recently highlighted in Prim8 Group Inc. v Tisi. In that case, an officer and director of Prim8 Group Inc. (Tisi) resigned from his employment to set up a competing business. Two days before his resignation, Tisi removed electronic equipment from Prim8’s premises, some of which contained proprietary information, and refused to return it. Shortly thereafter, another employee resigned from Prim8 without notice to join Tisi’s competing business.

 

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EI benefits: New parent, more time off and more money?

To implement these measures, Budget 2017 proposes to amend the Employment Insurance Act. The Government also proposes to amend the Canada Labour Code to ensure that workers in federally regulated sectors have the job protection they need while they are receiving caregiving, parental or maternity benefits. Workers in provincially regulated sectors will have to wait and see if provincial legislation will also be changed to extend job protection for 18 months. Without job protection, the flexibility to receive EI benefits over a longer period of time will be meaningless.

 

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Home renos and employment agreements: How employers can avoid the money pit

With home repairs, there is risk in DIY. Similarly, employment agreements require the input of an expert. If you’re not an employment lawyer, don’t try this (i.e. drafting or revising an employment agreement) at home.

 

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3 tax tips for employers: Negotiating a settlement

Given the majority of legal disputes that settle before going to trial, the role of a modern civil litigator has shifted from not only being a courtroom specialist, but also being an expert in negotiation. The main goal in almost all negotiations for an employee is to extract a large payout, while the goal for the employer is to settle the claim while paying out as little as possible. Though lawyers use different techniques for extracting these results for their clients, I wanted to share three simple tips that are often overlooked when employers are negotiating a settlement.

 

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Additional employer obligations? Domestic and sexual violence

As of the writing of this blog, Bill 26 has passed second reading and is before the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly for consultation and, so it remains to be seen if the above changes will come into force. That said, with the recent legislative attention on protecting employees with respect to sexual harassment and violence, it is likely that employers may soon need to revisit their policies and programs to account for domestic and sexual violence.

 

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Communicating bonus preconditions to employees

In the last few months, there has been an influx of commentary on the enforceability of contractual provisions purporting to limit an employee’s bonus entitlements upon termination. Following the Ontario Court of Appeal’s seminal decisions in Paquette v. TeraGo Networks Inc. and Lin v. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, much of this commentary has focused on the language needed to oust an employee’s implied right to their complete compensation package during the reasonable notice period. This focus on semantics has overshadowed one other consideration that remains instrumental to the enforceability of bonus provisions—the need to sufficiently communicate to employees the preconditions of bonus eligibility.

 

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Resignation: Best practices for employers

Cessation of an employee’s employment can happen by way of termination of employment by the employer or resignation by the employee. In the case of a voluntary resignation, while the employer may feel as though it is losing a beneficial employee, the upside is that the employer is not liable for the dreadful “reasonable notice of termination”. This blog discusses some of the best practices for employers when handling a resignation.

 

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Employment standards: Risks of paying employees “under the table”

Before hiring your first employee, an employer needs to educate itself on the various requirements under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (and other legislation such as the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (the “WSIA”) and Occupational Health and Safety Act­) and the nuances associated with termination of an employee’s employment. Although there will be some upfront costs associated with record keeping, registering for insurance pursuant to the WSIA and learning about employment legislation, the benefits of such proactivity will pay off in the future when issues inevitably arise, even if you only have one or two employees.

 

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New parents, new responsibilities: Help for employers with post-parental leave concerns

A recent Globe and Mail article highlights the fears that new parents face as they contemplate returning to work after a parental leave. It also highlights the issues employers must address when those employees return to work. Since our employer clients often raise questions about post–leave matters, we would like to offer some helpful tips on this issue.

 

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Discriminatory grounds such as family status, age, marital status, etc. that deal with the duty to accommodate

The Ontario Human Rights Code lists a number of personal characteristics protected from discrimination: race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability. These personal characteristics are often referred to as “protected grounds”. An employer is prohibited from discriminating against an employee on the basis of any protected ground.

 

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