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employee relations

$85,000.00 human rights award against employer in sexual harassment case upheld on appeal

In a recent case titled Doyle v. Zochem Inc., the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a decision to award both moral damages and damages pursuant to the Human Rights Code without subtracting one from the other. This case serves as an example of how serious our Canadian Courts are now treating sexual harassment in the workplace.

 

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Should employers be entitled to require that their employees have a certain ‘look’?

Recently, I posted a discussion topic in The Canadian HR Law Group on LinkedIn, which I moderate. It turned out to be one of a few recent topics that generated substantial interest and comment. As a result, I thought I would revisit the issue here, and I hope to hear from all of the First Reference readers.

 

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High achievers = high anxieties in the workplace

Is there an overachiever at your workplace? Do you have trouble understanding and working with them? High achievers, sometimes known as workaholics, have been found to be secretly plagued by fears and self-doubts and prone to resist change. Though it is important to be hard-working and have a drive to achieve in order to be successful, it can get out of control.

 

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Individual privacy in the workplace – a case precedent

On March 22, 2011, the Ontario Court of Appeal rendered a significant judgment concerning the protection of privacy in the workplace. Specifically, the Court determined that an employee had an expectation of privacy when using a laptop made available by the employer on which he was allowed to retain personal information.

 

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Are our devices harming our health?

I’ve caved. The end of my phone contract has been looming large, and as I pondered my options, somehow I thought, “I’d really like to be more connected.” So I’m ditching my two-year-old, decidedly not smart, flip phone and getting an iPhone—and a data plan. Soon I’ll be able to tweet and update my Facebook status and share photos wherever I am. And I’m afraid.

 

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Termination for cause upheld for breach of computer information access policy

Ontario’s Labour Arbitration Board recently held that an employer did not overreact when it terminated an IT employee for cause after he used an employer computer to download, store and share thousands of copyrighted works including movies, TV shows, music tracks, games and pornographic material, totalling over half a terabyte of data. The board found that the employee violated the employer’s trust in him and acted in flagrant disregard for the employer’s computer information access policy over many years.

 

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Sleeping on the job: not just for slackers

If you’re like most nine-to-five workers, you probably feel a bit slow sometime after lunch. Maybe you reach for another cup of coffee or tea. Maybe you grab some fresh air, a piece of fruit or something sweet and sugary to get you through. But in many cases what you really want is to place your head on your desk and close your eyes for a few minutes. Of course you can’t though—what employer in its right mind would let you do that?

 

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Robots in the workplace: freaky or fun(ctional)?

I came across this story about a “tele-robot” via Twitter, and I didn’t know what to expect when I clicked through. Still, I wasn’t disappointed. It can’t bring you a coffee, but it can walk around and order someone else to get you a coffee. Well, it’s controller can.

 

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Workplace organizational behaviour part II: Perception

Behaviour in the workplace is based on people’s perception of it. In this post, let’s examine how one’s perception influences productivity, absenteeism, turnover and job satisfaction.

 

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For small and medium-sized businesses, cross-training can be a lifesaver

An organization with dedicated departments and strictly delineated staff roles might be easy to manage when things are running smoothly, but what happens when someone gets sick, goes on vacation or leaves the company, and there’s no one else who can perform that person’s duties? Or what if both employees who can perform a certain duty are away from work at the same time? The last thing you want to be doing is scrambling to figure out how to do something at the last minute when you expected it to be done a week before, or training someone to do something entirely new while that deadline looms.

 

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Online indiscretions… well, you know the story

We’ve heard a bunch of stories over the past year about companies firing or not hiring employees, or challenging their claims of illness, over inappropriate online behaviour, particularly comments and photos posted on Facebook and other social networking websites. While the media have made a big deal of these cases, none has had the profile of CNN’s recent firing of Middle East correspondent, Octavia Nasr. The US news giant felt Nasr had compromised her credibility by publicly tweeting her respect for a prominent Islamic cleric on his death. The Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah had ties to controversial political action group Hezbollah.

 

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The new age of workplace gossip – TMI!

I’ve discussed workplace gossip here before, and what bosses can do to prevent it or at least reduce the potential harm, but there are a couple of hyper-modern developments that I didn’t get into: reality television and the Internet. These two things have created a culture of “sharing”, for lack of a better word, that encourages people at play or work to divulge the most mundane and private details of their lives to others—the kind of information that one previously might only have shared with family or best friends.

 

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Employee expense fraud

Employee fraud is on the rise, as organizations cut back on staff, and their internal controls slacken as a result. However, the monetary loss is just the beginning of the problem. A recent white paper from Grant Thornton LLP notes that, “Failure to crack down on this unethical—and indeed criminal—behaviour blurs the line between right and wrong. It creates a culture of entitlement that can extend across the business. And it can open the door to more significant corporate theft.”

 

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When employers are more progressive than employees

As if you didn’t have enough to worry about with the weak economy and trying to hold onto your job: more employers than ever in the United States are offering their employees the benefit of flex hours, but their employees are refusing to take advantage for fear they’ll get the axe! Recent research in the US by the Center for Work-Life Policy has found that fewer workers are accepting offers of flex-time—scheduling their own hours combined with working from home—because they feel the need to be present in the office to make sure their employers know they are working, even if the employees are in fact more productive working on their own schedules.

 

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Employee relations: Generational differences in the workplace

I recently read an article regarding a study about workplace expectations among the generations. The study suggests there are significant generational differences that exist in the workplace that impact workplace culture and employee relations.

 

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