Good News for Temporary Employees: Significant Changes Proposed to the Ontario Employment Standards Act

December 19, 2013
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On December 4, 2013, the Ontario government introduced Bill 146, the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act. It is omnibus legislation that proposes amendments to several key employment statutes, including the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the ‘ESA’). Bill 146 must still pass second reading prior to receiving Royal Assent. However, the proposed changes to the ESA are, at least in introductory form, positive for employees. For example, Bill 146 introduces a number of new protections for employees under the ESA, particularly for historically vulnerable temporary employees.

Holiday Parties

December 19, 2013
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The holiday season is a time of parties, including office parties. While you should always try to enjoy yourself at these functions, there are a few things to remember in order to make Monday morning at the office a little easier! If you are an employer, whether or not to serve alcohol is a tough line to walk. You want people to relax and have fun, but offering alcohol can be a risky endeavor for employers. If you are an employee and your employer is offering alcohol at a party, remember to be smart about your consumption.

Balancing Act: When a Union’s Right to Freedom of Expression Conflicts with Individual Privacy

December 12, 2013
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The recent Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) decision, Alberta (Information and Privacy Commissioner) v. United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401 is an important decision that balances individual privacy rights protected under provincial legislation against a union’s right to freedom of expression during a lawful strike. The decision may have an impact on privacy legislation across Canada.

Human Resource Issues can be Challenging for Volunteer Boards

November 14, 2013
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Human resource (‘HR’) issues can be challenging for volunteer Boards of not-for-profit and condominium corporations. Depending on directors’ knowledge of HR matters, and the extent to which the corporation seeks specialized legal advice, there is a risk that a Board’s HR decision could result in a letter from an employee’s lawyer and potential liability for the corporation.

Privacy in the Workplace: A New Tort is Born

November 7, 2013
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Over the last two years, courts have repeatedly addressed a new form of workplace violation; a new tort was based upon an actionable ‘intrusion upon seclusion’. With these decisions they have begun transforming the face of privacy law in the workplace.

Bill C-4: A Series of Retrograde Changes to Labour Relations in the Federal Public Service

November 1, 2013
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On October 22, 2013 the government introduced a number of changes to the labour and employment laws governing public servants. These changes are targeted at public servants and the unions who represent them. The changes make it harder to collectively bargain with the government, harder to enforce collective agreements, and harder to complaint about unfair and unjust layoffs or appointments in the public service.

Litigating Human Rights in Court or at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario

October 31, 2013
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On June 30, 2008, amendments to the Ontario Human Rights Code (‘the Code’) came into force that allow human rights damages under the Code to be dealt with either as civil claims before the courts or as applications before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). This change offered strategic flexibility and increased settlement options to victims of discrimination. However, despite the passage of 5 years since the amendments took effect, there have been no court decisions awarding damages under the Code.

Less Restrictive View: Restrictive Covenants in the Sale of Business

October 24, 2013
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It is increasingly common to find post-employment restrictions in employment contracts. These restrictions often include attempts by the employer to limit an employee’s ability to compete against its business or lure away their customers and employees. These restrictive promises are also found in agreements of purchase and sale, where the selling party agrees to a period of employment following the sale of business. As clarified in the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision in Payette v. Guay Inc. covenants made between a vendor and purchaser will be more readily enforced.

Refusal to Return To Work Following a layoff is a Failure to Mitigate

October 17, 2013
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While a temporary lay-off can amount to a constructive e dismissal, declining an opportunity to return to work shortly after being laid off will result in a failure to mitigate unless the relationship between the parties was acrimonious and infused with animosity.