A recent BC Supreme Court decision finding a fast food employee was wrongfully dismissed and entitled to aggravated damages has been making newspaper headlines across the country. Ms. Ram had worked as a cook in various Burger King locations for 24 years, and was terminated for just cause after taking home a fish sandwich, fries and a drink at the end of her shift without paying for them. Ms. Ram’s claim was heard over a seven day trial, resulting in a lengthy decision.
In Wood v Fred Deeley Imports Ltd., the Ontario Court of Appeal seemed to make a definitive statement about the interpretation of termination provisions in employment agreements: a court will invalidate them when they contain actual or technical deficiencies. However, the same Court’s decision last year in Oudin v Centre Francophone de Toronto seemed to reach a different conclusion: the court will apply contractual certainty to give effect to the parties’ intentions. Can the two be reconciled? Closer inspection reveals that each decision is specific to the employment agreements in each.
Under the Ontario’s Human Rights Code (the Code), an employee cannot be terminated due to a disability. If the Human Rights Tribunal finds that the termination was based in part or in whole on a disability, this may be considered a breach of the Code. The matter was addressed in one of the first Tribunal decisions of 2017, Ben Saad v. 1544982 Ontario Inc.
Once upon a time, employees did not sign employment contracts with termination clauses and employment lawyers fought over the appropriate “reasonable” notice period. In 2017, however, employees now claim in addition to wrongful dismissal damages, human rights damages, moral or Wallace damages, punitive damages, and damages for the intentional infliction of mental stress.
The three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with: Employee background checks; employee resignations; and current and upcoming minimum wage.
The legal doctrine of res judicata can cause an Application at the Human Rights Tribunal to be dismissed. This was the case in Chen v. Harris Rebar.
A recent case out of British Columbia provides a timely reminder of a best practice for Alberta employers when it comes to termination of an employee. In Saliken v Alpine Aerotech Limited Partnership, 2016 BCSC 832, a relatively short service employee was dismissed, allegedly for just cause.
In the recent decision Podobnik v. Society of St. Vincent de Paul Stores (Ottawa) Inc., the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) held that the Employer had reprised against the Employee when it terminated her employment after she had exercised her rights under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to refuse unsafe work. The OLRB did not agree that the termination was the result of an legitimate organizational restructuring. Rather, it held that the Employee’s termination was motivated “at least in part” as a reprisal against her for exercising her rights under the OHSA in the weeks preceding her termination.
Interestingly, the events following termination of employment do not affect an employee’s entitlement to notice. This includes the situation where an employee is terminated and shortly thereafter becomes ill or disabled. Our courts have dealt with this situation by suggesting a longer notice period may be warranted because the employee may find it more difficult to find alternate employment.
The Court acknowledged that an employer may allege just cause, and later abandon that claim at any time. The Court held that it wouldn’t be appropriate to penalize an employer for changing its mind if it initially had a reasonable basis to believe it had just cause to terminate an employee. As such, it is important to investigate and document any evidence of employee misconduct, and to act accordingly.
The three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with: A matter where the court had to determine the enforceability of a promoted employee’s new employment contract, particularly the termination clause; current and 2017 payroll rates; and PRPP legislation that is now in force in Ontario.
The three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with: 2017 payroll rates; a survey indicating that many employees are not using their vacation time; and a case where an employee’s dismissal without notice was justified.