Sunday, 31 August 2014

Independent Contractors and Employees on Contract – Understanding the Semantics of Ontario Employment Law

The modern English language is a powerful tool. However, it also has its challenges; synonyms, homonyms, and inexplicable exceptions to rules. (For example, try explaining to someone why the plural of moose is moose, goose is geese, and mouse is mice.) In the employment law context, the word that is most often the source of confusion and consternation is “contract.”

The purpose of this post is to look at the differences between:

  • A contractor and an independent contractor
  • Working on contract and working under a contract

Those terms often get commingled in everyday conversation, leading to incorrect assumptions and the aforementioned confusion and frustration. Therefore, as best as one can, given the limitations of the written word, here is a summary of the ways in which the law uses “contract.”

Monday, 25 August 2014

Continuity of Employment Following the Sale of a Business

”What are we doing about the employees?” That is the all-too-familiar question asked in the purchase and sale of a business. Are all the employees fired on closing? What happens if they continue working for the purchaser? Who is responsible for paying them severance?

In fact, there are a lot of questions concerning employees in the context of a purchase and sale of a business; presuming that the business has employees.

The purpose of this post is to look at some of the issues and legal implications involved in selling or buying a business, which is also an employer.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Still No Damages for Constructively Dismissed Employee

As an update to an earlier post, Employee Fired by Mistake had Duty to Return (published on this blog on September 3, 2012), on September 11, 2013, the Court of Appeal for Ontario upheld the decision of the Honourable Justice R.A. Lococo of the Superior Court of Justice, in which the court dismissed an employee’s claim for damages following an admitted constructive dismissal.

As a result of the loss of his appeal, the dismissed employee incurred a further $7,500.00 in costs awarded against him, in addition to the $50,000.00 awarded against him following the trial. Notwithstanding the fact that the employer had admitted that it had constructively dismissed the employee!

The case concerned the duty to mitigate and whether it was reasonable for the employee to refuse to return to the employer that had fired him. The reasons for the decision of the Court of Appeal for Ontario were reported at: Chevalier v. Active Tire & Auto Centre Inc., 2013 ONCA 548

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Why the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario may be the Wrong Place to Plead Your Wrongful Dismissal Case

Many people who get fired while pregnant, on maternity or disability leave assume that the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (“HRTO”) is the logical place to turn to grieve their case. However, several recent decisions from both the HRTO itself and the Ontario courts demonstrate that that assumption may be misplaced.

While this blog has previously looked at other cases on this topic (see e.g. Human Rights Tribunal Not The Place To Ask For Severance) this post will consider a decision of the HRTO concerning an employee fired while pregnant.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

How Employers Can Make Fundamental Changes to Terms of Employment

How can an employer make fundamental changes to an employee’s employment? Sometimes an employer will need to make a fundamental change to the terms of an employee’s employment, this may include changing the number of hours that an employee works, the times during which an employee will work, the position that the employee will hold, or the amount of money that the employee may receive.

While the easiest way to change the terms of an employee’s employment is to get the employee to agree, not all employees will be willing to do so. In those cases, employers will need to ensure that they follow the law concerning unilateral fundamental changes.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Resignation Does Not Relieve Employer of Statutory Obligations - Supreme Court of Canada

If an employee provides notice of his intention to resign on a future date, can his employer legally terminate his employment (i.e. fire him) before that date and not pay him? In a case concerning Quebec labour laws, Quebec (Commission des normes du travail) v. Asphalte Desjardins inc., 2014 SCC 51 (CanLII), the Supreme Court of Canada has said “non”.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Ontario Court Says When it Comes to Severance Packages 'A Deal is a Deal'

Can an employer refuse to pay out a severance package after it offers it to an employee and the employee agrees to accept it? That was essentially the question that the Ontario Superior Court of Justice was asked to resolve in the case of Dennis v. Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, 2014 ONSC 3882 (CanLII).

According to the Honourable Justice Brian P. O’Marra, a deal is a deal.