bona fide occupational requirement
Federal Court clarifies that the prohibited ground of “family status” includes “childcare obligations”
Do employers have to accommodate the “childcare responsibilities” of their employees to the point of undue hardship? The Federal Court has confirmed that in the federal jurisdiction the answer is yes subject to the requirement that the childcare responsibility be a “substantial parental obligation”.
Can you require employees to speak English? As always, the answer to this question is “yes”, “no” and “it depends”.
Expect application for leave to appeal to Supreme Court of Canada in Air Canada mandatory retirement case
Since the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the mandatory retirement practice for Air Canada pilots, some developments have taken place. First, in the primary Vilven and Kelly case, there will likely be an application filed to obtain leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada regarding the constitutionality of section 15(1)(c) of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
As you may recall, Air Canada pilots launched human rights complaints on the ground of age discrimination because the company forced them to retire at age 60. In a history of decisions spanning back to 2007 challenging the Air Canada policy that requires pilots to retire at the age of 60, which section 15(1)(c) of the Canadian Human Rights Act purports to allow, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal recently made two more decisions. One involved…
When mandatory retirement was eliminated, I noted that this change might create some interesting HR issues for employers of older workers. In the past, employers were often in a position to tolerate declining performance, comfortable in the knowledge that the employment relationship had a fixed “end date.” As a result, they could allow the employee to work out their last few years and retire with dignity.
We know that there is no precise method to determine the common-law period of reasonable notice when terminating employees. What has evolved and has been the most quoted case to help with this is the infamous Bardal vs. Globe and Mail. This case tells us that reasonable notice must be decided with reference to each specific case, considering the character of employment, length of service of the servant, the age of the servant and the availability of similar employment, having regard to the experience, training and qualifications of the servant.
The federal government gave royal assent to Bill C-13, Keeping Canada’s Economy and Jobs Growing Act on December 15, 2011. Several of the measures enacted have an impact on employment law for federally regulated workplaces. One of the measures amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to eliminate the mandatory retirement age for federally regulated employees.
Old habits die hard. The Human Resources industry is obviously having a hard time abandoning the notion that 65 is the accepted age for retirement. Since amendments to the Ontario Human Rights Code in 2006, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based solely on age. Prima facie compelling retirement at age 65 is a breach of the Code.
In July, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal made its third decision in the case of two Air Canada pilots who challenged the airline’s mandatory retirement policy. The tribunal decided in favour of Air Canada. Then, in August, the tribunal decided in a similar case involving 70 other Air Canada pilots. The tribunal again decided in favour of the airline, but for different reasons. For those hoping the July decision would settle the matter once and for all, the August decision is sure to confuse matters.
Every employer has experience accommodating employees due to their religion, family needs, health or disability. Accommodation is a necessary practice to manage a workplace today, and it’s the law in Canada, enshrined in the Canadian Human Rights Act and various provincial statutes. But every case of accommodation is different, and interpretations of the law vary.
Section 15.1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter) provides that “every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on…age.”
The recent case of Friesen v. Fisher Bay Seafood and others is a great example of free speech v. discrimination, on how and when workplace rules cross the line…