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News and Discussions on Payroll, HR & Employment Law

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Author Archive - Devry Smith Frank LLP

Devry Smith Frank LLP (DSF) is the largest full service law firm in Toronto outside of the downtown core. They offer a broad range of legal services to individual, business and corporate clients in most areas of corporate and personal law. Their firm’s employment law group covers a broad spectrum of HR law, including employment and labour law, occupational health & safety, human rights, workers’ compensation and much more. Lawyers at Devry Smith Frank LLP lead by Marty Rabinovitch B.A.H., LL.B. will be covering issues surrounding employment and labour law and human rights on First Reference Talks. They also provide training, seminars and conferences on the above topics. Read more .

The Canada Labour Code & employer releases

Many arbitration decisions have held that it is illegal for the employer to require the employee to sign a release waiving their rights under the Canada Labour Code as a term of a settlement offered at the time of termination.

 

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What the Coronavirus means for Canadian employers

Over the past several weeks, news of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV or Coronavirus) has dominated our newsfeeds, which at the time of writing has three confirmed cases in Ontario, two of which are in Toronto. The virus has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) and in order to control the outbreak, China has responded with an aggressive strategy and taken the extraordinary step of confining residents in the city of Wuhan (the epicentre of the outbreak) to their homes.

 

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Fired because of race? Consider a human rights claim

In 2018, a group of eight Caucasian employees of the Spruce Hill Resort and Spa Ltd. (“the Resort”) in British Columbia made a complaint to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal (“the Tribunal”), in which they alleged that they had been terminated from their employment because they were not Chinese. The Tribunal found that seven of the employees had been discriminated against on the basis of race and colour, and one employee had been discriminated against on the basis of sex.

 

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Denial of employee benefits to working seniors: a charter violation

On May 18, 2018, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario rendered its decision with respect to the issue of whether s. 25(2.1) of the Human Rights Code, when read alongside s. 44 of the Employment Standards Act, 2000, permitted employers to terminate benefits for employees when they turned 65. In Talos v. Grand Erie District School Board, the Tribunal found that such a termination violated s. 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, because it was a form of age discrimination.

 

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Novel issues raised by transgender human rights complaints

A recent human rights complaint against several salons in Vancouver, British Columbia sheds new light on the relationship between human rights law and persons who identify as transgender.

 

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Can my employer dismiss me due to my unseen disability?

Employers should investigate further before immediately dismissing employees for violating workplace drug and alcohol policies. An employee’s diagnosis of substance dependence would be considered a disability, which is a protected ground under the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) for federally regulated employers.

 

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Can behaviours associated with a sex addiction merit employee dismissal?

A recent Nova Scotia labour arbitration decision suggests that employers may not have to accommodate employees who have medically diagnosed sex addiction where behaviours associated with such an addiction clearly justify discipline or termination.

 

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Failing to abide by confidentiality provisions in a settlement agreement can cost you your settlement payment

The recent decision of an arbitrator in the matter between Acadia University and Acadia University Faculty Association (Re Dr. Rick Mehta), 2019 CarswellOnt 8518 (Lab Arb) emphasizes the importance of abiding by a confidentiality provision in a settlement agreement.

 

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Medical marijuana: Limits to consumption in unionized workplaces

A recent labour arbitration decision from Saskatchewan has suggested what the boundaries around workplace consumption of medical marijuana might be.

 

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Update: Ontario Liberals announce changes to labour law—and a $15 minimum wage

While rumours of a $15 minimum wage have been swirling around since the past month, the announcement comes as part of the Ontario Liberal’s bigger campaign to protect vulnerable workers. The announcement also confirmed the rumours that annual vacation pay will be rising from two weeks to three weeks for employees that have worked at their jobs for at least five years.

 

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Protecting employees from social media harassment

It is well known that employees have certain legal obligations to their employer with respect to the content of their social media profiles. An arbitrator recently confirmed that employers also need to be careful about the content of their social media pages as it relates to their employees.

 

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Pay equity: Closing the wage gap

Despite the dramatic increase of women in the workforce and the existence of pay equity legislation, gender wage inequality remains a persistent problem in Canada. As part of an ongoing study on gender disparity for the Globe and Mail, Statistics Canada reported in March 2016 that a woman working full-time makes 73.5 cents for every dollar a man makes. The article also notes that Canada has the eighth highest gender wage gap among 34 industrial countries according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

 

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Back-to-work postal legislation found in violation of Charter rights

Justice Firestone of the Ontario Superior Court recently decided that back–to–work legislation introduced in 2011 aimed at striking postal workers from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers was an unjustified violation of the Union’s rights to freedom of association and expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As a result, the judge retroactively declared the legislation of no force or effect.

 

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Employers, be careful what you say during pre-employment discussions, it may cost you

The Supreme Court of British Columbia recently decided that misleading or inaccurate statements made by an employer during pre–employment discussions can result in liability for negligent misrepresentation. In the case before the court, an erroneous statement was made by the representative of the Defendant employer during a pre–employment phone conversation. The statement in question was in reference to the Plaintiff’s eligibility for the Defendant’s long–term disability benefits plan. As a result, damages awarded to the Plaintiff for the negligent misrepresentation totalled nearly $100,000.

 

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Workplace accommodation has limits

In Pourasadi v Bentley Leathers Inc., the Human Rights Tribunal found that accommodating a store manager by permitting the employee not to assist customers was not required, since assisting customers was an essential duty of her position.

 

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