Sunday, 16 November 2014

SCC Refuses to Hear Case from Unionized Employee who Sued for Breach of Confidence and Defamation

A recent decision from the Supreme Court of Canada, in which leave to appeal a decision from the Court of Appeal of Alberta, Beaulieu v University of Alberta, 2014 ABCA 137 (CanLII), was denied, further bolsters all predictions that Jian Ghomeshi’s case against the CBC is doomed to failure.

In its decision, the Court of Appeal of Alberta affirmed the legal principle that unionized employees must subject all disputes arising out of the employment situation to the mediation/arbitration process contained within the employee’s collective bargaining agreement – not the civil courts.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Supreme Court of Canada says There is a Duty to Act Honestly in the Performance of Contracts

“Does Canadian common law impose a duty on parties to perform their contractual obligations honestly?” That was the “key issue” that the Supreme Court of Canada sought to resolve in the case of Bhasin v. Hrynew, 2014 SCC 71 (CanLII), released November 13, 2014. Writing on behalf of the unanimous Court, the Honourable Justice Thomas Cromwell held:

I would answer [the question] in the affirmative. Finding that there is a duty to perform contracts honestly will make the law more certain, more just and more in tune with reasonable commercial expectations.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Lying About Credentials on Resume is Not Just Cause

Is overstating one’s credentials as a salesperson and then failing to complete a single sale of the employer’s wares within 40 days of commencing employment “just cause” to terminate an employee’s employment? As infuriating as it may sound to some employers, according to a decision from the Provincial Court of British Columbia, Lura v. Jazz Forest Products (2004) Ltd., 2014 BCPC 247 (CanLII), the answer is “no, it is not just cause.”

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Dispute about Availability of Similar Employment Grounds to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Summary Judgment Motion

Will summary judgment be appropriate in a wrongful dismissal action if the issue of the plaintiff’s mitigation efforts are hotly contested? According to a 2013, pre-Hryniak decision, the answer can sometimes be “no.”

In a case where the primary concern was that of availability of similar employment, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice refused to grant summary judgment in an otherwise straightforward wrongful dismissal matter.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Is Prohibiting Smokers from Employment a Discriminatory Practice?

Would it be ‘illegal’ to ask someone in a job interview whether he or she smokes cigarettes?

While the answer remains unclear, there is a compelling argument that the answer may be yes, in some cases.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Ontario Court Awards Four Months Notice to Employee Fired while “On Probation”

Are employees whose employment is terminated while “on probation” entitled to common-law reasonable notice? A Small Claims Court decision from 2012, Cao v. SBLR LLP (2012), 217 A.C.W.S. (3d) 871, 26 D.E.L.D. 172 (ON SCSM) serves as an important reminder that the answer from Ontario’s courts can sometimes be a resounding yes.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Former Employee's Wrongful Dismissal Case against US Embassy Continues

Sandra McDonald’s legal saga against the Embassy of the United States at Ottawa is a long and interesting story. On July 17, 2012, Ms. McDonald, a former employee of the embassy, obtained default judgment in the amount of approximately $250,000.00 against her ex-employer after it failed to defend her wrongful dismissal case.

The judgment received a fair amount of media attention at the time. Although, even then, at least one Ottawa employment lawyer was sceptical; telling the Toronto Star , “Good luck to her. The U.S. Treasury is already in debt to the tune of $13 trillion.”

Less well publicized is what has happened since. As expected, Ms. McDonald has not seen her money. However, rather than simply ignore the judgment, the US Embassy has, in fact, responded to the case.