Saturday, 24 September 2016

Being "Reckless With the Truth" Not Just Cause for Termination

(c) istock/ChesiireCat

Is “being reckless with the truth” as to whether a client has insurance coverage “just cause” for the termination of an insurance broker’s employment?

That was one of the questions that the Honourable Mr. Justice Ronald M. Laliberte Jr. was asked to resolve in the case of Cassell v. Irving H. Miller Limited, 2016 ONSC 5570 (CanLII).

Although the employer felt very strongly about having just cause for termination, Mr. Justice Laliberte saw things differently.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Will Wood Finally Answer the Question of Benefits? There’s Hope.

This post will break from tradition. Rather than be a post about something that has happened, it will be an anticipatory post about something that is expected to happen.

On September 6, 2016, the Court of Appeal for Ontario heard the appeal of the decision reached by Mr. Justice Grant Dow of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Wood v Fred Deeley Imports Ltd., 2016 ONSC 1412 (CanLII). Should the court choose to answer all of the questions put to it by the appellant, then I have no doubt that the decision will fundamentally alter the landscape of Ontario employment law.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Emotional Upset Not Enough for Award of General Damages: ONCA

Image (c) istock/Rawpixel Ltd.

If being accused of breaking the law “takes a serious toll” on you, causing you “emotional upset”, can you successfully sue the person that caused that harm?

It is trite to observe that being accused of something that you did not do is likely to cause feelings of serious upset. In employment law, this scenario arises most frequently when an employer alleges “just cause” for the termination of an employee’s employment. But what do the courts have to say about this issue? Can someone sue for emotional upset?

In the case of 495793 Ontario Ltd. (Central Auto Parts) v. Barclay, 2016 ONCA 656 (CanLII), released September 2, 2016, the Court of Appeal for Ontario confirmed that a plaintiff’s testimony of emotional upset, being unsupported by medical evidence, was insufficient to ground the substantial award of non-pecuniary damages made by the trial judge, the Honourable Regional Senior Justice Helen M. Pierce. (See reasons for decision reported at 2014 ONSC 3517.)

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Agreement “Not to Accept Business” Actually a Non-Competition Agreement: ONCA

When is a non-solicitation provision in an employment contract actually a non-competition agreement? The answer is, when it prevents the employee from “accepting business from” any former corporate accounts or customers.

In a short endorsement released August 30, 2016, Donaldson Travel Inc. v. Murphy, 2016 ONCA 649, the Court of Appeal for Ontario confirmed an earlier decision of the Honourable Justice David A. Broad of the Superior Court of Justice, dismissing the plaintiff employer’s claims for breach of contract, misappropriation of confidential information, inducing breach of contract and interference with contractual relations against its former employee travel agent and her new travel agency employer.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Why You Should Hire Me Before You Hire Another Employee

If you are an employer and you are looking to hire one or more new employees for your company, let me explain to you why you should hire me first to prepare your company’s employment contracts: it will (almost assuredly) save you money.

I know it sounds contradictory that you can likely save money by hiring a lawyer to prepare your employment contract, for which there will be a very reasonable cost, but believe me it is true. Please allow me to explain – there is no charge for reading and if you are not convinced by the end of this post, you can move on to something else and it will not have cost you a dime.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Employer Ordered to Provide Particulars of Reasons for Termination Without Cause

Is a provincially regulated employer required to provide the reason that it terminated an employee’s employment if that employer does not allege that it had “just cause” to terminate the employment?

Conventional wisdom would be that the employer would not have to provide a reason. It is settled law that employers in Ontario may terminate the employment of any of its employees without cause subject only to two restraints: (1) the employer must provide the employee with reasonable notice of the termination; and (2) the reason for termination cannot be prohibited by law.

It was the second criterion, the reason for termination cannot be prohibited by law, that brought the issue of whether an employer had to provide its reason for the termination of employment into focus. According to a decision of Master Donald E. Short, Mezin v. HMQ, 2016 ONSC 5171 (CanLII), if an employee alleges that his employment was terminated in contravention of the provisions of the Human Rights Code, then the employer must provide particulars of its denial of such allegations.

Employees Not “Actively Employed” Still Entitled to Bonus Payments: ONCA

EA Sports, the makers of such videogame as NHL hockey and Madden NFL football, previously employed the motto, “If it's in the game, it's in the game”, meaning that if something happened in the real game, then it would appear in the videogame. More recently, the motto has been shorted to simply “It’s in the game.”

While it is highly unlikely we will see a member of Ontario’s judiciary on the cover on NHL 18, the court did just lay some serious body checks, figuratively speaking, on Ontario’s employers. Following two decisions from the Court of Appeal for Ontario Paquette v. TeraGo Networks Inc., 2016 ONCA 618 (CanLII) and Lin v. Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, 2016 ONCA 619 (CanLII), both of which were released on August 9, 2016, Ontario’s employers would be prudent to heed this warning: “In determining damages for wrongful dismissal, Ontario’s court will typically include all of the compensation and benefits that the employee would have earned during the notice period.” Put another way, “If it’s in the game, it’s in the game.”