How can an employer balance its obligation to maintain a safe workplace for its employees with its duty to accommodate an employee who has serious mental health issues? According to a recent arbitration award, an employer may inadvertently breach one statutory obligation by satisfying another. A single employee's rights – even human rights – cannot be considered in isolation and to the exclusion of the rights of all others.
Recent amendments to the Labour Code, brought about by Bill C-44, have been overshadowed by the dramatic changes to provincial labour and employment laws earlier in 2018. While big changes – including a significant increase in minimum wages in several provinces – have garnered the most attention, federally regulated employers must consider the code's amendments, which will affect the way in which certain complaints brought against such employers are launched and adjudicated.
Included among the many changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 brought about by the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (referred to as 'Bill 148') are changes to existing leaves of absence and the introduction of new leaves of absence for Ontario employees. Employers should review and update their existing policies to ensure compliance with Bill 148, keeping in mind the changes and additions that are now in effect.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently declined to grant an injunction to suspend the Toronto Transit Commission's (TTC's) ability to implement its random drug and alcohol testing policy. While the court's decision is not the final say on whether the TTC's policy will ultimately be upheld by the grievance arbitrator, its finding on the privacy considerations accounted for by the policy, among other things, undoubtedly weigh in the TTC's favour.
Recent case law has overwhelmingly rejected termination clauses that purport to limit an employee's entitlements upon termination to the minimum notice required by applicable employment standards legislation. However, a 2015 Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision diverged from that case law and was recently upheld by the Ontario Court of Appeal.
As part of the Ontario government's action plan to combat sexual harassment and violence, key workplace legislation has been amended. The most significant changes for employers are those to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which include an amended definition of 'workplace harassment', a new requirement to establish a workplace harassment policy or programme and an expansion of employers' duties and inspectors' powers.
An employee employed by Four Seasons in Ontario signed a contract for her transfer to New York. Three years later, the employment relationship in New York was terminated. The employee launched a claim in Ontario alleging wrongful dismissal. However, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that despite having jurisdiction, New York was the more appropriate forum.