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Employee not discriminated against as breastfeeding a “choice”- Federal Court of Appeal Decision

The recent decision by the Federal Court of Appeal addresses the employer’s duty to accommodate. Ms. Laura Flatt, the applicant, sought a judicial review from the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board (Board) after her grievance against her employer, the Treasury Board of Canada, was dismissed. The applicant had filed her grievance based on discrimination on the grounds of sex and family status contrary to the Canadian Human Rights Act.

 

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Building the just cause wall brick by brick

I am often asked what it takes to prove that summary dismissal is warranted. Can a single incident of misconduct be sufficient? What about a series of less serious incidents?

 

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Disability, employment and the new veterans charter

The relationship between disability and employment is slowly changing, and as much as we are mindful of developing trends in policy and law, we still have the obligation to recognize and respect disability from a cross sector perspective, including individuals who have served in the Canadian Forces, acquiring an injury as a result.

 

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Unlimited vacation: flashy gimmick or prudent policy?

Sir Richard Branson recently announced a change to Virgin’s vacation policy. According to virgin.com the policy: permits all salaried staff to take off whenever they want for as long as they want. There is no need to ask for prior approval and neither the employees themselves nor their managers are asked or expected to keep […]

 

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Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with upcoming changes to Ontario’s employment and labour law; the update to the Canada Revenue Agency form RC18 to calculate automobile benefits; and a 20-year old workplace injury case.

 

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Make mine a Bitcoin: Payroll issues and digital currency

The bitcoin, a decentralized digital currency conceived in 2008, has experienced exponential growth in use over the past 2 years. Bitcoin ATMs have begun to spring up in cities across Canada—including in Ottawa’s Byward Market and on Spadina Avenue in downtown Toronto. Demand for the currency has also penetrated the employment world, with some employees seeking pay in Bitcoin in lieu of the Canadian Dollar.

 

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Remedial powers of the Human Rights Tribunal

Often employers are unaware of the pitfalls of becoming embroiled in a Human Rights application. Employers are sometimes shocked to find that the Tribunal’s powers not only lay in monetary awards, but also in non-monetary, as well as future compliance or public interest remedies. If an employer is found to have breached the Code, below are just some examples of such powers and remedies which the Tribunal may order.

 

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Family status: Recent interpretation under the Human Rights Code

Requests for accommodation due to family status is becoming more common as societal norms continue to change. The leading case in Ontario that addresses the worker’s rights and the employer’s obligations on the ground of family status is arguably Devaney v. ZRV Holdings Limited.

 

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Constructive discrimination: The case of Tawney Meiorin

Constructive or adverse discrimination in employment occurs when rules or standards are established that do not discriminate at first glance, but have an adverse effect on persons whose rights are protected under human rights legislation. In such a case, the burden shifts to the employer to establish that such rules or standards are essential to the job, also known as bona fide occupational requirements (BFOR’s. British Columbia (Public Service Employee Relations Commission) v. BCGSEU is the leading case which addresses this issue. This seminal human rights case from the Supreme Court of Canada established a three-part test which has become the standard to evaluate constructive discrimination.

 

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Employers are wondering if they can ever require that an employee provide sick notes

“Bosses shouldn’t ask sick workers for doctor’s notes: OMA”; that was the recent headline in the Toronto Star. The press release from the Ontario Media Association has prompted reactions ranging from confusion to controversy and outrage, and it has left employers wondering if they can ever require that an employee provide “sick notes”.

 

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There is more to a job than compensation

It has always been clear in Ontario law that employers cannot unilaterally alter the most important aspects of the employment contract – compensation, location of work, hours of work – without the employee’s consent or providing adequate advance notice of the change. If it does, it may lead to a claim of constructive dismissal. But what if the change imposed in the contract is not as important as some of these? How can the employee respond to a change in his position that he perceives to be a demotion, even if the title remains the same.

 

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Should employees talk about mental illness?

This month media campaigns are encouraging people to talk about mental illness. This raises the question about whether employees should talk to their employer about mental illness or remain silent for fear of losing their jobs.

 

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Employer successfully proves dismissal for cause of long-service employee for false sick leave

It can be very difficult to establish cause for dismissal, particularly when the employee has lengthy service with the employer. However, on the right facts, it is possible to do so. MacBurnie v. Halterm Container Terminal Limited Partnership, 2013 NSSC 361, is a recent example of an employer that successfully proved at trial that it had dismissed an employee for cause.

 

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Three of the most popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

Three of the most popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with benefits coverage after the age of 65; employees’ future performance; and deductibility of pension benefits from termination pay.

 

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OLRB opens the door to harassment reprisal complaints under the OHSA

The Ontario Labour Relations Board (“OLRB”) recently made an important decision which may represent a significant shift in how it approaches allegations that employers have engaged in reprisals against workers who have filed harassment complaints.

 

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