Sunday, 14 December 2014

Judge says 30-Day Notice Provision is Okay

For years this blog has taken the position that if a termination provision in an employment contract does not technically violate the provisions of the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 at the time of termination, but has the potential to do so at other times, it is legally unenforceable at all times. Period. For my earlier commentary on this subject see Poorly Drafted Employment Agreement Proves Costly.

The position and statement of law is premised upon a decision made by the Honourable Justice Wailan Low of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice: Wright v. The Young and Rubicam Group of Companies (Wunderman), 2011 ONSC 4720 (CanLII).

A more recent decision from the same court, this time authored by the Honourable Justice David Price, Ford v. Keegan, 2014 ONSC 4989 (released August 28, 2014) specifically rejects Justice Low’s decision on this point.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Top Five Cases of Importance to Ontario Employment Law - 2014 Edition

Since its inception in 2012, this blog has been naming its Top Five Cases of Importance to Ontario Employment Law. The 2013 and 2012 editions are available by clicking the links.

In 2012, this blog named Jones v Tsige as the number case of importance to Ontario employment lawyers. This year’s decision in Evans v. The Bank of Nova Scotia (see: Employee's Invasion of Customer's Privacy can be Employer's Responsibility) demonstrates why that case was a reasonable pick.

In 2013, this blog named the decision of the HRTO in Fair v. Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board as the number case of importance for that year. This year’s decision from the Ontario Divisional Court upholding that decision (see: Appeals Court Upholds Employee’s Reinstatement 9 Years After Termination) received considerable attention from both interested and casual observers.

So, in a year that saw a number of much-discussed Supreme Court of Canada decisions, including a new approach to summary judgment and a statement that parties to a contract must execute their contractual obligations “honestly” what will take the top spot?

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Rita Hayworthing of Ontario's Workplaces

For those who feel like their workplaces are already too much like a prison, May 20, 2015, will not be a happy day. For on that day the workplaces of Ontario will resemble Andy Dufresne’s prison cell at the fictions Shawshank State Prison.

For those who have not seen the movie The Shawshank Redemption my first question is “how?” But, if you have not, and sorry to spoil it for you, the movie focuses on Andy Dufresne, a innocent man sentenced to life in prison at Shawshank State Prison, from which he eventually escapes by tunnelling through the prison’s walls. Dufresne conceals his tunnel with a large poster of Rita Hayworth.

Unfortunately, the poster that employers must distribute to all employees as of May 20, 2015, is not of Rita Hayworth; it is of the salient provisions of Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Unpaid Interns Become "Workers" Under OHSA

On November 20, 2014, unpaid interns in Ontario gained a modicum of protection under some of Ontario’s employment laws. No, the government did not make any changes to minimum wage provisions relevant to unpaid labour (although the government did change the minimum wage law to make the same reflective of the Consumer Price Index, effective October 1, 2015), the government amended the Occupational Health and Safety Act to make that law applicable to unpaid labourers.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Unpaid Articling Positions: Opportunity or Exploitation?

"Will litigate for food?" Earlier this month a community legal clinic in Oshawa drew fire after it advertised a 10-month unpaid articling position on Legal Aid Ontario’s official website. But can it do that? Shouldn’t lawyers know better?

Incredibly, the law concerning minimum wage does not apply to everyone. Some employees are expressly exempted from the protections of the minimum standards of the Employment Standards Act, 2000. Among those who are exempted are articling students.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Scope of the Employer's Duty to Investigate Sexual Harassment Complaints

To what extent must an employer investigate allegations of sexual harassment? This question comes to the fore as a result of a recent episode of CBC’s The Fifth Estate, The Unmaking of Jian Ghomeshi, in which the Executive Director of Radio at CBC, Mr. Chris Boyce, defended his decision to limit his investigate of Ghomeshi’s behaviour by saying he is “not the police.”

But is that position really defensible? The Fifth Estate certainly made it appear that Mr. Boyce had been confronted with a number of allegations of serious concerns with Mr. Ghomeshi’s behaviour both inside and outside the workplace. Could Mr. Boyce, as a member of CBC management really turn a blind eye to the entire situation?

While there are several cases concerning this issue, the case of Menagh v. Hamilton (City), 2005 CanLII 36268 (ON SC) provides a paradigmatic example of poor employee behaviour and how the courts of Ontario will respond to such actions.

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.