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Supreme Court of Canada overturns test regarding summary judgments – Takeaway for employers

Rule of law

On January 23, 2014 the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in Hryniak v. Mauldin, overturning the Ontario Court of Appeal’s test for the appropriateness of summary judgments (Rule 20 of the Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure, and replacing it with a broader test aimed at increasing access to justice throughout Canada. More specifically, the court confirmed that summary judgment rules must be interpreted broadly, favouring proportionality and fair access to the affordable, timely and just adjudication of claims. What does this mean for employment law?


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No proportionality, no cause for termination

Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench recently confirmed that a termination for cause was inappropriate, given that it was not proportional to the employee’s conduct. As a result, the employer had to pay 12 months’ severance as set out in the employment agreement regarding a termination without cause.


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Employers must now treat verbal threats as serious offences under the OHSA’s definition of workplace violence

A recent labour arbitrator’s decision—to uphold the City of Kingston’s right to terminate a 28-year employee for issuing a verbal threat against a co-worker—was based in large part on the arbitrator’s view that “the classification of threatening language as workplace violence” under the Occupational Health and Safety Act represents a “clear and significant change” to the law in Ontario.


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