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Disability and termination under the Human Rights Code

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.

 

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Wrongful dismissal update: More kinds of damages being ordered

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.

 

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Dealing with marijuana in the workplace

I am increasingly being asked to speak about this subject at HR conferences, as employers are concerned about the practical implications of medical marijuana and how employees using it should be treated. The issue of marijuana in the workplace has generated a lot of attention, but what have our courts, arbitrators and tribunals said about it? A review of decisions addressing dismissal for workplace usage or possession of marijuana shows an inconsistent treatment which is consistent with the early stages that we are in.

 

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Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

The three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with: Employee background checks; employee resignations; and current and upcoming minimum wage.

 

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Res judicata revisited at HRTO and OLRB

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.

 

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Termination provisions in employment contracts

As an employee, by law, you are entitled to reasonable notice of termination of your employment. Employers however, often attempt to limit your legal entitlements by explicitly defining your rights upon termination in the employment contract. In the recent case of Singh v Qualified Metal Fabricators Ltd. an Ontario Court adopted an employee–friendly interpretation of these termination provisions, resolving the potential ambiguities in favour of the employee. While employers are allowed to contractually limit employees’ common–law reasonable notice requirements, they are required to do so with complete precision.

 

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A classic lesson regarding termination meetings

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.

 

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Termination deemed reprisal for refusing unsafe work

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.

 

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Illness or disability during the notice period

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.

 

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Just cause termination: Employers need “reasonable basis”

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.

 

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Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

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.

 

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Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

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.

 

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Discretion is the better part of bonus plans – Limiting employee entitlement to post-termination bonus payments

Employees who are terminated without notice can sue employers for the total compensation, including bonus payments, which they would have otherwise received during the notice period if reasonable notice had been given.

 

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Using summary trials in a wrongful dismissal action

The high costs of litigation and the long delays to have a matter heard in court have raised serious concerns with respect to access to justice in Canada. This challenge can be felt particularly acutely with somebody who has recently been wrongfully dismissed from their employment. While the common law may tell us that a terminated employee may be entitled to receive several more months compensation for their termination than what their employer is offering, often the high cost of litigation require the worker to accept less than they deserve. The high costs of litigation and the long delays to have a matter heard in court have raised serious concerns with respect to access to justice in Canada. This challenge can be felt particularly acutely with somebody who has recently been wrongfully dismissed from their employment. While the common law may tell us that a terminated employee may be entitled to receive several more months compensation for their termination than what their employer is offering, often the high cost of litigation require the worker to accept less than they deserve. But what if someone can have their day in court without the time and expense of trial and discoveries? In many wrongful dismissal cases, a summary judgment application may provide just that.

 

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Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

The three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with: a case where an employer’s appeal to not pay unpaid wages and termination pay was somewhat successful; a matter where an arbitrator issued very different decisions when it came to two employees who grieved their terminations; and two cases that address employee entitlement to damages in lieu of a bonus on termination.

 

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