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.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Appeals Court Upholds Employee’s Reinstatement 9 Years After Termination

At the end of 2013, this blog proclaimed the decision of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario in Fair v. Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, 2013 HRTO 440, as the number one case in Ontario employment law for that year. At the end of September 2014, the Tribunal’s decision was upheld by a three-judge bench of the Ontario Divisional Court: 2014 ONSC 2411.

While one has to assume that this case is still yet far from over, the purpose of this post is to consider the decision of the Divisional Court with respect to this matter.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The Not-So-Independent Contractor

From 2000-2006, there was a television program called “Malcolm in the Middle.” The show was called as much because the lead subject was the middle child of three: Malcolm. The theme song for the show ended with the line “life is unfair.” But is life truly unfair for those caught in the middle?

The purpose of this post is to consider the middle category of employment; those who are neither true employees but are not exactly independent contractors either: the intermediate position of “dependent contractor”.

As this post will hopefully demonstrate life is not always unfair to those who find themselves ‘in the middle.’

Sunday, 28 September 2014

More is Required for a Human Rights Case than Simple Unfairness

Does being treated unfairly in employment and simply having a disability, being a member of a visible of invisible minority, or otherwise being protected by the provisions of Ontario’s Human Rights Code entitle one to bring an application before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario?

A recent appeal decision from Ontario’s Divisional Court, Hay v. Ontario (Human Rights Tribunal), 2014 ONSC 2858 (CanLII) affirmed that the answer is no.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Moral Damages for Manner of Dismissal - Meeting the Evidentiary Burden

How much medical evidence must a party seeking damages for mental stress caused by the manner of his or her dismissal from employment, i.e. moral damages or “Wallace” damages, lead at trial in order to receive an award of the same? As with most answers in law, it would appear that the answer is “it depends.” In a recent ruling from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice sitting at Ottawa, El-Hawary v. 1202827 Ontario Inc, 2014 ONSC 5265 (CanLII), the Honourable Justice Timothy Ray held that moral damages were not appropriate without medical evidence as to the cause of the plaintiff’s suffering.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Termination After Being Made the Subject of Workplace Investigation may Entitle Employee to Moral Damages

If an employee is made the prime suspect in a workplace investigation but is found to be not responsible for the harm that was the subject of the investigation, can the employer nonetheless terminate the employee’s employment on a without cause basis with impunity?

In refusing to grant summary judgment fixing the applicable notice period and dismissing the plaintiff employee’s claims for moral and punitive damages in a termination without cause case, the Honourable Justice Margaret Eberhard in the case of Brownson v. Honda of Canada Mfg., 2013 ONSC 896, leave to appeal refused 2013 ONSC 6974, held that the answer may be that no, the employer cannot terminate the employee’s employment on a without cause basis with impunity.