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discrimination in employment

Managing the coronavirus (COVID-19) for employers

The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been the dominating news topic of 2020 so far. Canadian health officials maintain that, at this point, the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains low in all parts of Canada. However, it is important for employers to be prepared to respond as COVID-19 continues to develop both in Canada and globally.

 

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No obligation to accommodate employee’s “preference” to work closer to home

A recent arbitration decision is helpful for employers dealing with accommodation requests, particularly with respect to a request to be transferred to a different location.

 

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Smokers need not apply: can Ontario employers refuse to hire nicotine users?

As of February 1, 2020, U-Haul no longer hires nicotine users in 21 of the US states in which it operates. The company, which employs over 30,000 people across the US and Canada, announced this new policy late last year. While it may be easy to understand U-Haul’s stated rationale for introducing this anti-tobacco policy, to adopt the same in Ontario would likely expose the company to liability.

 

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Full and final: Human rights application successfully barred by signed release

In recent years, one of the recurring circumstances where the efficacy of a signed release has been debated is where a former employee files an application with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

 

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Recent case assessment direction and “creed”

religious discrimination

The Halton District Catholic School Board posted a job advertisement for a contract position. The applicant replied to the advertisement, and when he was not selected for the position he filed a complaint at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario alleging discrimination on the ground of creed.

 

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Maternity and parental leave policies: To top up, or to tap out? That is the question…

New York-based bank JP Morgan Chase has recently been getting a lot of attention in the media after paying a hefty 5 million dollars to settle charges that their parental leave policy was discriminatory towards their male employees. It is believed that the settlement will impact up to 5,000 fathers who were denied parental leave benefits.

 

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5 questions to consider when exploring the duty to accommodate

Canadian human rights law also imposes a duty to accommodate. This requires employers to ensure that persons with characteristics protected under the Code are not unfairly excluded where working conditions can be adjusted.

 

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Alberta Human Rights Tribunal adopts findings of Workers’ Compensation Board

In Kebede v. SGS Canada Inc., 2019 AHRC 3, the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal recently dismissed a portion of a human rights complaint on the grounds that the issue was already decided by the Alberta Workers’ Compensation Board.

 

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Can an employer terminate an employee for just cause if they were charged with a criminal offense?

The laying of a criminal charge alone does not constitute just cause (i.e. dismissal without notice) in every instance. In order to summarily dismiss an employee for being charged with a criminal offense, the employer must show that there is some connection between the charge and the employer.

 

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Summary hearings and the burden of proof at the HRTO

For an application to be fully processed at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the applicant must establish a nexus or “connection” between the protected ground they are alleging and the conduct of the respondent. This was reiterated in the recent summary hearing of Wasty v. Long Wolf Real Estate Technologies.

 

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Discriminatory grounds such as family status, age, marital status, etc. that deal with the duty to accommodate

The Ontario Human Rights Code lists a number of personal characteristics protected from discrimination: race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability. These personal characteristics are often referred to as “protected grounds”. An employer is prohibited from discriminating against an employee on the basis of any protected ground.

 

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Does the Tribunal have the power to deal with allegations of “unfairness” at work?

Whether or not the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has the power to deal with general allegations of unfairness in the workplace was recently revisited in Murray v. YouthLink.

 

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Can an employee “sign away” their human rights?: Brown v. Prime Communications Canada Inc.

The question of “can an employee “sign away” their human rights?” became relevant in a recent case. After signing a release with her employer, the Applicant filed an application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario alleging discrimination with respect to employment because of sex contrary to the Human Rights Code.

 

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To defer or not to defer a human rights application: What are the relevant questions?

Where the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario finds there is a separate proceeding that may involve similar facts, the Tribunal has discretion to defer consideration of an application until the proceeding has been completed. Such was the question, whether or not to defer the application in the recent interim order in West v.Yogen Fruz Canada Inc.

 

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Summary hearings at the HRTO: Is an alternative explanation enough?

When a respondent is first made aware that a Human Rights application has been filed against them, often their first response is to deny any accusations and to request a summary hearing in hopes of disposing of the matter at the outset. While such hearings may be requested, it does not always work to the advantage of the respondent. Such was the case in the recent Interim Decision of Lomotey v. Kitchener Waterloo Multicultural Centre.

 

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