First Reference company logo

First Reference Talks

News and Discussions on Payroll, HR & Employment Law

decorative image

Human Rights

BCHRT considers the duty to inquire as to the presence of a mental disability

Is it the employer’s duty to inquire whether an employee has a mental disability? The BCHRT recently considered a case that addresses this. Generally, before an employer can be required to accommodate an employee’s mental disability, the employer must know, or ought reasonably to know, that the employee has such a disability in the first […]


, ,

The latest on the legality of random drug and alcohol testing

This blog summarizes a recent arbitration award where a union challenged an employer’s random drug testing policy at a coal mine.


, , ,

A primer total disability and psychiatric conditions

Generally speaking, claim liability, whether through an employment group policy or an individual policy, mandates that a claimant suffer a total disability. Contrary to what most HR departments often think, total disability in the context of disability insurance does not mean that an employee must be completely helpless and incapable of any activity. Rather, total […]


, , , , , , , , , , ,

No reason given for refusal of HRTO request to expedite, no reasons required

In this matter, the Request to Expedite was dismissed through a letter from the Registrar. In the interim decision, the Tribunal further explained that in matters dealing with process, there are no grounds for reconsideration, as only final orders may be reconsidered.


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bill C-65 – Amendments to the Canada Labour Code dealing with sexual harassment and violence

Federally-regulated employers, including those covered by the PESRA, should consider whether Bill C-65’s proposed changes require an examination or revision of current policies and practices on workplace violence or harassment.


, , , , , , , ,

Projet de loi C-65 – Modifications au Code canadien du travail portant sur le harcèlement et la violence sexuels

Dans la foulée des allégations d’inconduite sexuelle, les débats devraient commencer sur le projet de loi C‑65 du gouvernement fédéral. S’il est adopté, ce projet de loi renforcerait les protections contre la violence et le harcèlement au travail, y compris le harcèlement et la violence sexuels, dans les milieux de travail de réglementation fédérale.


, , , , , , , , ,

Sexual harassment and Valentine’s Day

Employers need to be aware of the sexual tensions at play in an office, or risk being held liable for failing to address a poisoned work environment. For example, if two co-workers had a relationship and then broke up, and one is now showing revealing photos of the other around the office, this likely creates a poisoned work environment for the depicted employee. Though a manager may be tempted to deem the matter personal, the employer has an obligation to protect the employee.


, , , , , ,

Discrimination or accommodation?

Accessibility legislation in Ontario requires employers to communicate with employees and the public about the availability of accommodation for job applicants with disabilities in both the recruitment process and when making job offers. There is no duty to pro-actively identify an employee’s or candidate’s disability.


, , , , , , , ,

Abrams v. Kupar: Pregnancy not a factor in short-term employee’s termination

In the matter of Abrams v. Kupar, the applicant, who was pregnant at the time, was terminated from a new job. The applicant believed it was due to the fact that she was pregnant. The respondent alleged that the termination had nothing to do with her pregnancy, but rather that the employee was not suited for the job. The matter was heard at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The Tribunal’s decision was in favour of the respondent.


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Parliamentary Secretary releases final report and recommendations on re-establishment of B.C. Human Rights Commission

The B.C. government launched a public engagement process on September 20, 2017, led by Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism Ravi Kahlon, to gather stories, feedback, and information from the public to guide the re-establishment of the Commission. The engagement process, which included nearly 100 public meetings and consideration of nearly 70 formal written submissions, ended on November 17, 2017.


, , ,

The Supreme Court of Canada issues landmark decision on the scope of human rights legislation

The Supreme Court of Canada recently issued a much-anticipated decision on the scope of human rights legislation, finding that the British Columbia Human Rights Code is not limitless in its scope, and instead created a new contextual test to determine whether alleged discriminatory conduct is conduct within the scope of the Code.


, , , , , , ,

Is the rule of law at risk in Ontario?

Rule of law

Recently I concluded that the rule of law no longer applies in many Ontario workplaces. The epiphany hit me when I was meeting with the Managing Director of a boutique law firm.


, , , , ,

Sexual harassment house of cards

Another week, another list of public allegations of sexual abuse, sexual assault and sexual harassment against high profile men in the entertainment industry, politics and beyond. The onslaught of allegations, which began in earnest with the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, followed soon after by allegations against what appears to be almost every other man in Hollywood, created a #MeToo movement indicating that it is a rare occurrence for a woman to have not been abused or harassed, with many instances work-related.


, , , , , , , , , , ,

Supreme Court of Canada confirms that all workplace harassment is protected – even by third parties

In British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal v. Schrenk, 2017 SCC 62, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that human rights legislation is to be interpreted broadly and purposively and specifically found that the protection against workplace harassment is not limited to conduct perpetrated by an individual’s employer or co-worker. This decision will have significant implications for employers and employees alike.


, , , , ,

Update concerning the legalization of marijuana

Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts was introduced in the House of Commons on April 13, 2017. In response to the developments taking place at the federal level, provinces and territories have become active in creating provisions for their particular jurisdictions. The goal is to implement a regulatory framework in particular provinces or territories in anticipation of the legalization of non-medical cannabis in July 2018.


, , ,

Previous Posts