The Ever-growing Gaps and What they Really Mean

December 10, 2014
Blog Post

We all witnessed the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States. But in case you thought Canada was immune, did you know that 14% of all income in Canada is now received by the top 1%? This is up from the 1980s, when the top 1% earned only 8% of the income. This income gap is compounded by the other gaps in the workplace.

Movember in the Workplace

November 24, 2014
Blog Post

It’s Movember, and men throughout the country are merrily sprouting moustaches! Around this time every year, labour lawyers receive inquiries from clients asking whether an employer in a unionized workplace can force an employee to shave his newly grown moustache or beard. Limiting a person’s freedom of self-expression is a sensitive topic and, as with most areas of arbitral case law, the analysis is rather complex. Nonetheless, it is the employees subjected to such intrusive demands who have generally won the day.

Questions from a Scandal – Can a Unionized Employee File a Complaint Against an Employer?

November 21, 2014
Blog Post
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Jian Ghomeshi’s termination from the CBC has touched on a variety of subject areas, including the power of celebrity; our societal dialogue surrounding allegations of sexual assault; and the legal implications of filing a lawsuit against an employer for wrongful dismissal. Setting aside the more contentious aspects of Mr. Ghomeshi’s termination, one of the legal issues is the fact that he has commenced a civil lawsuit against his employer, despite being a unionized employee.

Taxing New Family Policies

November 6, 2014
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We’re always interested in issues that are relevant to Unions and their members, and this week, a post on the Broadbent Blog by Rick Smith, Executive Director of the Institute, titled, ‘The Conservatives Propose Family Policy for a Bygone Age’ caught our attention. The post takes a critical look at the new federal family policies and tax scheme, arguing that these are most likely to benefit traditional families with stay at home spouses, ignoring the needs of those most in need of assistance, as well as calls for an affordable national child care program.

Discovering the Undue Hardship Threshold: The need for Accommodation

October 22, 2014
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The onus is on the employer to establish that it discharged its duty to accommodate a disabled employee to the point of undue hardship. Even though the primary responsibility rests with the employer, all three parties involved, namely the employer, the union and the employee, play an important role with respect to an employer’s obligation to accommodate an employee.

Making Psychotraumatic Claims Work

October 8, 2014
Blog Post

Some workers experience significant emotional impairments like low-self-esteem, sadness, anger or anxiety following an accident or injury, which may impact their ability to work. These workers may qualify for further benefits from Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (‘WSIB’). If a worker is experiencing psychological distress following an accident or injury, it is important that they discuss these issues promptly with their treating physician and their lawyer or advocate so that they can be properly considered by the WSIB in determining their benefits.

Knowing is Not Everything: Shedding Light on Medical Issues

September 24, 2014
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In Cape Breton (Regional Municipality) v. Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 933, 2014 NSSC 97, a recent decision from the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, Justice Gogan confirmed the reasonableness of Arbitrator MacKeigan’s decision to conditionally reinstate an employee who had been discharged for excessive absenteeism but who was unaware of the severity of her medical issues. This case is a great outcome for human rights in general but more specifically, for employees with mental health issues.

Federal Government Must Establish an Alternation System to Assist Employees who are About to be Laid Off

September 16, 2014
Blog Post

The Federal Court has recently upheld a decision of an Adjudicator that the Federal Government must establish an alternation system or establish systems and processes to facilitate ‘alternation’ opportunities for employees who are about to be laid off. This decision is a significant victory for public servants, and ensures that departments need to help public servants protect themselves against the impact of government layoffs.

5 ‘Must Do’s’ When Responding to Workplace Allegations

September 10, 2014
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Many employees are initially surprised when approached by their employer about allegations made against them by co-workers. The nature of these allegations can vary widely in seriousness, but any employee whose conduct is being investigated would be wise to take every complaint seriously. The process however, is often stressful and unfamiliar. Here are 5 essential ‘must-do’s’ for employees responding to workplace allegations.

Secret Recordings during Negotiations

August 28, 2014
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With the capabilities of today’s smartphones and wearable technology, it is easier than ever for anyone to record events and conversations – even without the knowledge of those around them. Inevitably, this technology makes its way around the bargaining table to capture bargaining negotiations. Can these recordings be relied upon later as evidence?