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Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

The three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with: how an employee’s decision to retrain affected his right to damages after termination, improvements to CRA services for small and medium businesses and union-friendly changes to the certification process included in Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.

 

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Secret recordings in the workplace: A review of legal and practical consequences

While it may be legal to surreptitiously record your own workplace conversations, it is another question altogether as to whether it is a good idea. Canadian courts have acknowledged time and again that trust is at the heart of the employment relationship.

 

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Don’t take a chance on it: The uncertainty of ESA-only termination clauses

In January 2017, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released its decision in Cook v. Hatch upholding a less than perfect termination clause that failed to reference statutory severance pay or provide for continued health benefits during the statutory notice period. A month later, the Court of Appeal responded with its decision in Wood v. Fred Deeley Imports Ltd. where it overturned a motion judge’s ruling upholding a similar termination provision. And so, the age old debate about the enforceability of ESA-only termination provisions rages on.

 

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The damages formerly known as Wallace – Are they still relevant?

It has been about eight years since the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Honda Canada v Keays, which dramatically altered the law with respect to damages relating to bad faith conduct in the course of dismissal. Is the topic still relevant? A recent Ontario decision confirms that it is.

 

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Long-term construction employees may be entitled to reasonable notice of termination

Generally, construction employees are not entitled to termination or severance pay under the Employment Standards Act (the “Act”). Section 1 of Ontario Regulation 288/01 of the Act explicitly exempts them from such minimum employment standards. However, a long-term construction employee may still be entitled to common law reasonable notice, which is much more lucrative than what the Act provides for anyway. Nevertheless, how much notice a construction employee is entitled to under the common law remains an unsettled test in Ontario.

 

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Ontario court: “Total payroll” must be considered when assessing employer severance pay obligation

The Wissing case is an important decision for Ontario employees and employers alike. It confirms that in assessing an employee’s entitlement to statutory severance pay, the Courts will look at the employer’s total payroll, not just that of its Ontario operations.

 

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Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

The three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with: Court of Appeal upholds award to constructively dismissed McDonald’s manager; Employer proves it accommodated employee’s disability to the point of undue hardship; and Employer’s LMIA application denied due to lack of “genuineness” of job offer.

 

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Employee engagement in the modern workplace

The modern workplace requires innovation, agility and creativity when it comes to employee engagement, learning and development, how to accept and embrace the high turnover, gig economy, and how to stop generalizing generations. Few would disagree that an organization will only grow and thrive when it can figure out how to engage all individuals, not just certain demographics or generations.

 

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OHSA in wonderland: Through the looking glass

If an employee alleges a violation of section 50 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”) then the employer must prove there has been no violation. This is called a reverse onus clause which means an employer must prove it did not violate OHSA. After a brief summary of the remedies that are available to employees under section 50 of OHSA, this blog discusses three recent cases.

 

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Bill 17: Proposed changes to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code

On May 24, 2017, the Government of Alberta tendered and passed first reading of Bill 17: Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act.

 

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Important decision regarding mitigation of damages following termination

The Ontario Court of Appeal, in Brake v. PJ-M2R Restaurant Inc., recently clarified the law of mitigation.

 

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Employer unsuccessful in voiding unfavourable termination clause

A recent decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal dealt with the unusual situation of a defendant employer arguing that its own contractual termination provision was unenforceable and thus the plaintiff employee was entitled to common law reasonable notice. Employees frequently challenge the enforceability of a termination provision to seek common law notice, however, it is rare that an employer would do the same.

 

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Probationary clauses: A double-edged sword for employers

Many employers find it necessary to assess new employees’ performance on the job before making a final determination about whether an individual is suitable for a position. In the absence of an express term in an employment contract, employees in Canada are entitled to reasonable notice of termination at common law when they are dismissed without just cause. Many employers put terms in their employment contracts, such as probationary clauses, which limit this entitlement. However, employers may not always be clear on the implications of such clauses.

 

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Fast food firing leads to aggravated damages

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.

 

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Wood vs. Oudin: Clarity in termination provisions

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.

 

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