The three most viewed articles on HRinfodesk this week deal with the court calling into question the termination without notice of a probationary employee, how the law around references is changing and how a mistake in a contract led to constructive dismissal.
Most people assume that they know what a probationary period is and how it works in Canada. Unfortunately, however, there are many misconceptions with respect to the law in this regard, and many employers unknowingly expose themselves to significant liability when they hire new employees.
Since the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Honda v. Keays, dismissed employees have increasingly sought bad faith damages in severance negotiations and wrongful dismissal actions. A key issue in these claims is whether the employer’s conduct was sufficiently egregious to justify these damages. The courts are clear that not every perceived offence or instance of misconduct will give rise to a finding of bad faith.
I am frequently asked by employer clients to describe what type of conduct by an employee will be held by the courts to qualify as cause for dismissal. Employers are often frustrated by the answer they receive – that it seems that nothing less than stealing money from the company will suffice. In the case of long time employees without prior instances of misconduct, theft may still be insufficient. A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court has fortunately clarified the circumstances in which courts will find cause for dismissal as a result of dishonesty. What is striking about the decision is the reliance of the judge on a seemingly insignificant act committed by a nineteen year employee.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice just decided that although an employee was constructively dismissed when he was suddenly “laid off,” the employer did not owe the employee any damages because he failed to mitigate his loss.
Employer properly withheld documents in access to information request Alberta’s privacy commissioner confirmed that an employer properly withheld certain information from an employee because the personal information of a… Ontario Court of Appeal upholds nearly $200,000 in damages for loss of disability benefits during common law notice period Reasonable notice under the common [...]
Our federal government’s recent introduction of proposed reforms to the employment insurance system has prompted the expected furor from both sides of the debate…
Beware of terminating long-term employees without proper notice The Ontario Superior Court of Justice decided that an employer terminated a 65-year-old long-term employee without the proper amount of notice or severance. As a result, the employer had to pay hefty damages, interest and costs awards. Entitlement to paid sick leave and termination pay [...]
Most employers in Ontario are aware that the Employment Standards Act imposes standards on employers with respect to the treatment of employees. However, many are not aware that they are required to display a poster issued by the Ministry of Labour titled, “What You Should Know about the Employment Standards Act.” This poster, which can be downloaded from the ministry’s website, advises employees of their rights with respect to employment standards of hours of work, wages, public holidays and more…
In Ontario, employers owe vacation pay on employee wages. Wages are defined in section 1 of the Employment Standards Act to include “any payment required to be made by an employer to an employee.” Here is where it gets tricky. In Ontario, the employment standards may require two separate types of payments to an employee who is terminated without cause.
A human resource person in one of the largest insurance company in the UK mistakenly fired 1,300 global employees in its investment unit by email. The email asked them to turn over their security credentials and company property on their way out and to remember their contractual obligation pertaining to confidential information. Oops! The email was only meant to go to one employee.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice just decided that an employer terminated a 65-year-old long-term employee without the proper amount of notice or severance. As a result, the employer had to pay hefty damages, interest and costs award
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.
Termination clauses can be void even if only a possibility they could violate Employment Standards Act
As those who read my comments regularly will know, I recommend that every employee be asked to sign an employment agreement that sets out, among other things, the amount of notice or pay in lieu thereof that will be required in the event of a dismissal without cause. Such a provision will eliminate all of the uncertainty that typically arises at the time of dismissal when the parties must assess, negotiate and possibly litigate what “reasonable notice” would be in light of all the circumstances.
Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench recently confirmed that a termination for cause was inappropriate, given that it was not proportional to the employee’s conduct. As a result, the employer had to pay 12 months’ severance as set out in the employment agreement regarding a termination without cause.