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Author Archive - Simon Heath

Simon Heath, BA, MIR, LLB, is the Principal of Heath Law, Employment Lawyers in Mississauga, Ontario. Simon represents both public and private-sector employers and employees (unionized and non-unionized) at all stages of the employment relationship with a focus in the areas of employment law, labour law and human rights law; these representations are made at all levels of courts and all administrative tribunals. Read more

Ontario court sends message of deterrence by sentencing project manager to 3.5 years imprisonment from preventable workplace fatalities

As most of you recall, on December 24, 2009, five construction workers fell from a stage swing on a residential building that was been used so that the workers could fix the concrete on the building. There were six workers on the platform but only two secure lifelines and only one of the workers had secured himself. When the platform split, four of the workers were killed and one miraculously survived the 100 foot drop albeit with serious injuries.

 

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To IME or not to IME, this is the question

In the recent decision, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (“OHRT”) addressed the issue of when it would be reasonable for an employer to request an Independent Medical Exam (“IME”) from an employee during the accommodation process. The OHRT ruled that an employer request for an IME will be justified when it was “reasonable” in the circumstances of creating an individualized accommodation plan.

 

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Ontario divisional court addresses enforceability of termination clause in federal jurisdiction

In the past three years there have been a number of cases arising from the Ontario courts considering whether or not termination clauses which purport to rebut the implied presumption of common law notice and limit an employee’s entitlements upon termination are enforceable. The enforceability of such clauses can have significant consequences on the quantum of an individual’s damages because an employee’s common law entitlements typically exceed his/her minimum entitlements under the applicable minimum standards legislation. The Ontario Division Court recently considered the enforceability of a termination clause in the federal sector in Luney v. Day Ross Inc., 2015 ONSC 1440.

 

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HRTO concludes teenage Mennonites discriminated against when fired for observing a religious holiday

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A small vegetable and herb business in Ontario recently ran afoul of the Ontario Human Rights Code (“Code”) because it blindly adhered to its attendance policy and failed to consider any alternatives to an employee’s request for a day off work to observe a religious holiday because it interfered with its business demands. The Ontario […]

 

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Poor drafting leads to finding of fixed term contract

Recently, the British Columbia Supreme Court released a decision whereby poor contractual drafting on the part of the employer resulted the court finding that there was an operative three-year fixed term that could only be terminated early by paying the balance of the contract as damages minus any amounts earned as mitigation.

 

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OLRB rules that sleeping on the job does not constitute “intentional misconduct” under ESA

Anyone involved in human resources may think that if an employee who works in a manufacturing facility surrounded by potential health and safety hazards is found sleeping on the job on more than one occasion, they should be dismissed for cause and disentitled to severance of any kind. That would be a reasonable “gut reaction” to this type of fact situation. In fact, such decisions are routinely upheld by both the courts and labour arbitrators.

 

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Arbitrator rules employer presentation not discriminatory or anti-union

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In OPSEU (Brydges et al) and the Ministry of Transportation GSB 2012-1012, Arbitrator Dissanayake dismissed a grievance by a number of Ministry of Transportation employees. The employees alleged that an employer presentation asking them to be happy/content with their wages and benefits and comparing them to poor and starving people in developing countries was both discriminatory under the Ontario Human Rights Code and constituted anti-union discrimination which violated the collective agreement (particularly because of upcoming collective bargaining).

 

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Danger of fixed term contract avoided

The recent decision in Tossonian v. Cynphany Diamonds Inc. highlights the importance for both employees and employers to clearly specify the fundamental terms of an employment contract in writing including the “term” of the contract.

 

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2014 Employment law round up – Top five cases/trends/stories

With 2015 just around the corner, it is useful to reflect on the year that has just past and is coming to a close. 2014 had a number of significant employment law developments and below we have…

 

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Ontario Human Rights Tribunal decision offers clarity on workplace sexual harassment

With the allegations against CBC Radio personality Jian Ghomeshi dominating the news over the past several weeks, it is useful to examine how the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal addressed allegations of workplace sexual harassment in the recent case of Horner v. Peelle Company Ltd. (2014) HRTO 1211.

 

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Company ordered to pay $8,000.00 for discriminatory text messages during job application process

A company in Ottawa has just landed itself with a damage award from the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal and a lot of embarrassing media coverage in how one of its employees discriminated against a potential candidate for employment on the basis of “race, colour and ethnic origin” during a telephone job interview and subsequent texts. The case of Bouraoui v. Ottawa Valley Cleaning and Restoration, is a shocking example of discriminatory conduct on the part of an employer.

 

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Delay in implementing a promotion did not constitute a constructive dismissal

In the vast majority of cases constructive dismissals arise when employers unilaterally reduce an employee’s compensation or amend another significant and fundamental term of employment. However, in Penteliuk v. CIBC World Markets, the Ontario Superior Court recently had to determine if the failure to provide an employee with a promised promotion and salary increase constituted a constructive dismissal.

 

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Arbitrator rules profanity during telephone call with manager insufficient to constitute ‘just cause’ for dismissal

Vice-Chair Ian Anderson of the Ontario Labour Relations Board recently ruled in Canadian Union of Skilled Workers v. Hydro One Inc., 2014 CanLII 15069, a construction industry grievance that the employee’s use of profanity during a telephone call with his manager did not constitute conduct sufficient to justify a dismissal for cause.

 

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Federal Court of Appeal outlines test for discrimination on the basis of child care responsibilities

The Federal Court of Appeal has released two companion decisions in Attorney General of Canada v Fiona Johnston and the Canadian Human Rights Commission 2014 FCA 110 (“Johnston”) and Canadian National Railway v. Denise Seeley and the Canadian Human Rights Commission 2014 FCA 111 (“Seeley”) that confirm that discrimination on the prohibited ground of “family status” includes child care obligations and in elaborating on the appropriate test to be used in order to determine when an employee can establish a prima facie case of discrimination on the basis of family status contrary to the Canadian Human Rights Act.

 

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Ontario Ministry of Labour announces 2014-15 employment standards inspection blitzes

On April 3, 2014, the Ontario Ministry of Labour announced the focus of its 2014-15 Employment Standards Act (ESA) inspection blitzes. A “blitz” occurs when the Ministry of Labour (MOL) decides to have its employment standards officers target industries that have a history of employment standards violations or industries that employ vulnerable workers in order to ensure compliance with the ESA.

 

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