One of the main disputes regarding the rise and proliferation of the gig economy is whether its workers are employees or contractors. Companies treat such workers as independent contractors, but some workers have been pushing back, claiming that they are employees. This has implications for their ability to unionise. The Ontario Labour Relations Board will soon be ruling on this issue when it determines whether Foodora couriers have the right to unionise.
A recent Ontario Superior Court ruling highlights how employers can end up with unexpected employment liabilities after an asset purchase deal. It also highlights the importance of careful wording when hiring employees in those situations. In light of this decision, purchasers in an asset deal should be aware of the new employer's fate. In such cases, proper employment offers are key.
Employees sometimes need flexibility to start or leave work at different times than originally agreed with their employer (eg, because of childcare issues). A recent appellate decision confirms that employer flexibility in granting occasional requests does not always modify the underlying employment contract.
A recent arbitration decision has confirmed that termination can be the appropriate penalty for long-service employees with clean disciplinary records when they engage in sexual harassment, including showing a nude photo to a supervisor. This case highlights how seriously arbitrators look at sexual harassment in the workplace – particularly in the #MeToo era – and reminds employers of the importance of taking detailed notes during an investigation, including with respect to an individual's demeanour.
A recent British Columbia Supreme Court ruling has clarified that even where the terms of a bonus plan expressly state that payment of a bonus is discretionary, an employer's conduct can affect whether the bonus is treated as discretionary on termination of employment. Employers should be aware of, and adhere to, the terms of bonus plans. Further, employers must be mindful of the pattern and history of discretion exercised in awarding bonuses during an employee's employment.
The Ontario Court of Appeal recently reaffirmed that the upper limit for reasonable notice remains 24 months, absent exceptional circumstances. This decision is a reminder of the importance of well-drafted employment contracts, particularly with regard to an employee's entitlements on termination.
Ontario's Divisional Court recently found that a farm's employees were exempt from the overtime provisions of the Employment Standards Act 2000. The court's decision is now the leading authority on the farm exemption and provides critical clarity to the farming community, which often relies on overtime work to produce agricultural products. It also provides guidance on the interpretation of employment standards legislation.
The Canada Elections Act provides that every employee who is an elector is entitled to three consecutive hours off work to vote. With election day looming, employers may be wondering what their obligations are towards their employees. This article sets out those obligations as well as employees' rights in this regard.
In a recent case, the arbitrator found that the employer need not pay the agreed settlement funds because the grievor's tweets breached the settlement's confidentiality provisions. This case is an important reminder of the significance of confidentiality in the settlement of labour disputes and the need to include clear and unequivocal confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements.
A recent decision reaffirms that employees must return to work following a constructive dismissal to mitigate the damages that they caused where doing so would not be embarrassing, humiliating or degrading. In such cases, employers should consider whether it is appropriate to re-offer an employee the opportunity to return to work following an allegation of constructive dismissal, as this could greatly limit the damages and their potential liability in litigation.
An adjudicator considering allegations of unjust dismissal under the Canada Labour Code recently ruled that an employer was prohibited from asserting dismissal for misconduct since the issue had already been decided by an employment insurance officer. The decision reminds employers to proceed with caution when communicating with employment insurance officers after a termination. They should also consider the potential ramifications of not appealing an officer's decision.
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario recently held that a law firm discriminated against an applicant because of his age and race, and by failing to investigate his discrimination complaint. This decision is an important reminder for employers to be careful in how they assess and treat candidates during the recruitment process. Among other things, employers should be courteous in their communications with all candidates and avoid engaging in arguments with them.
Can a unionised employee be fired for masturbating at work or is there a duty for employers to accommodate this conduct as a sex addiction? These were the novel questions considered in a recent case. The decision does not end the dispute about whether a sex addiction is a recognised medical condition that could be a disability, but it does reinforce the importance of progressive discipline in upholding a cause termination.
Many employees struggle to manage disability leave. This is particularly difficult when an employee wants to work but their doctor says that they cannot do so for the foreseeable future. A recent decision provides guidance to employers dealing with this situation. For example, they should proactively manage disability leave by, among other things, staying up to date on an employee's potential to return to work.
A recent arbitration decision reminds employers that distinctions between different classes of protected employee may be discriminatory. As such, employers should review their policies and agreements in light of this decision to ensure that differential treatment is not applied to employees in different protected classes on leave, as this may provide a basis for a successful discrimination claim.
The federal government recently made numerous significant announcements regarding employee entitlements under Part III of the Canada Labour Code. It is now clear that many new employee entitlements will come into force on 1 September 2019. The government also announced a consultation process concerning further regulatory changes relating to Part III of the code and made changes to the Canada Labour Standards Regulation.
A recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruling is a helpful reminder of the factors that the courts will assess when determining the enforceability of agreements not to compete with an employer or solicit its customers after the end of an employment agreement. In order for a restrictive covenant to be enforceable, an employer must be able to justify it as being no more than is reasonably required to protect its valid proprietary interests.
The spring session of the British Columbia legislature recently ended, and both the Employment Standards Amendment Act and the Labour Relations Code Amendment Act were proclaimed into law. These two acts represent the most significant changes to employment and labour legislation in two decades and all British Columbia employers should be aware of the impact on their businesses.
Family status discrimination continues to be an area in which the law differs across Canada. In British Columbia, the test for family status discrimination has been more stringent than in other parts of the country for the past 15 years. A recent case involving a project manager who was assigned to work in another province for eight to 10 weeks a few months after the birth of his first child confirms that a personal preference to provide childcare, without additional factors, does not trigger a duty to accommodate based on family status.
A recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision has confirmed that a release signed by an employee should be overturned for unfairness only if there is clear evidence of a lack of fairness. The court specifically cautioned against making conclusions on motions without sufficient evidence, which may cause plaintiffs and defendants alike to reconsider under what circumstances the court will grant summary judgment.