Friday, 29 September 2017

Judge Gives KISS Off to Gene Simmons Discrimination Claim

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Can you sue someone in Ontario civil court exclusively for discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code? Definitely not, according to a decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice sitting at Ottawa involving Gene Simmons and a KISS concert: Lee v Simmons et al., 2017 ONSC 4980 (CanLII)

Friday, 8 September 2017

Inconvenience Damages Awarded after Company’s Failure to File Record of Employment on Time

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What is the penalty if a company fails or refuses to file a Record of Employment on time?

While cases involving government sanction for failing to properly file an ROE appear to be few, in the civil case of Ellis v Artsmarketing Services Inc., 2017 CanLII 51563 (ON SCSM), an Ontario Small Claims Court Deputy Judge awarded money damages for such inconvenience.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Supreme Court Upholds Termination for Violation of Anti-Drug Policy

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Can an employee be fired for violating his company’s drugs and alcohol policy, if the reason he violated such a policy was because he was addicted to an illegal drug?

For many years, most Ontario employment and human rights lawyers would have hesitantly answered that question with a “probably not”. Those who practice management-side would have sighed in frustration while they provided such advice, while those who act for employees would have adamantly pointed to human rights’ legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of such a recognized disability.

In June of 2017, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in the case of Stewart v. Elk Valley Coal Corp., 2017 SCC 30 (CanLII). In that case, Canada’s top court upheld a termination of employment on the basis that the employee had breached the company’s anti-alcohol and drugs policy.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Ontario’s Top Court Confirms that Employees May Sometimes be Required to Attend Medical Examination by Doctor of Employer’s Choosing

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“The motion for leave to appeal is dismissed with costs fixed at $1,000.” With those thirteen simple words, Ontario’s top court has confirmed that employees in Ontario may sometimes be required to submit to an invasive medical examination - by a doctor of their employer’s choosing - as part of the duty to accommodate and return to work process.

On August 25, 2017, the Court of Appeal for Ontario released its endorsement on a motion for leave [read: “permission”] to appeal the decision of the Ontario Divisional Court in Bottiglia v Ottawa Catholic School Board, 2017 ONSC 2517 (CanLII).

This is a big deal for Ontario employment and human rights law.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Entitlement to Bereavement Leave in Ontario

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How much paid bereavement leave is an hourly employee entitled to in Ontario? And what constitutes “evidence reasonable in the circumstances” to demonstrate entitlement to personal emergency leave?

If you are reading this post, you are likely reading this at an unfortunate time in your life or that of someone close to you.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Ottawa Judge Rules that Severance Offers Should Not be Pleaded

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If I reject a severance offer, will the judge think I am being too greedy in asking for more? That question is a common concern among employees who find themselves suddenly unemployed. Conversely, employers are often hesitant to offer enhanced severance packages, lest the employee sue for wrongful dismissal and claim the offer as evidence of the employer’s willingness to at least pay such amount.

In a decision released July 19, 2017, Ramos v Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Co., 2017 ONSC 4413 (CanLII), the Honourable Madam Justice Robyn M. Ryan Bell may have done a great deal to mitigate such concerns for both sides.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

“Retiring Allowances” and the Taxation of Wrongful Dismissal Damages

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Lawyers are often loathe to guarantee anything. However, it is said that two things in life are guaranteed: death and taxes.

This “guarantee” raises an important issue for the settlement of any wrongful dismissal case, the taxation of wrongful dismissal damages. While employers and employees can and often will agree to a favourable characterization of such damages, as the case of Ferhman v Goodlife Fitness Centres, Inc., 2017 ONSC 4348 (CanLII) demonstrates, sometimes that is not done and employees can end up receiving a lot less money – net of taxation – than they anticipated.