Friday, 31 August 2012

Fired After Maternity Leave

An Ontario employer cannot fire an employee while she is on maternity leave simply because she is on maternity leave. Ontario law protects the employee’s position while she is away. But, what happens when an employee who has been on maternity leave returns and is then terminated?

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Names Will Get You Fired

Is calling your boss negligent and dishonest just cause for dismissal? It depends on who you ask it would appear.

In a decision released August 17th, 2012, Bennett v. Cunningham, 2012 ONCA 540, the Court of Appeal for Ontario reversed the decision of the Ontario Divisional Court, which had itself reversed the decision of an Ontario Superior Court judge.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Being Reasonable about Constructive Dismissal

Should I stay or should I go? Without question, the single most difficult case that walks through my door is that of harassment or bullying by managers. This post will focus on general hostile working environments. Working environments that are toxic by reason of violations of the Human Rights Code are treated differently.

The fact scenario most commonly presented is that of the employee who simply cannot take any more from his or her manager and/or subordinates. Pulled in a hundred different directions, often with no support from above, the worker’s well-being starts to suffer.

What is an employee, faced with this situation of unbearable stress, to do?

Monday, 20 August 2012

Failing to Prevent Subordinate's Stupidity Not Just Cause for Dismissal

Some facts are simply too fantastic to make up. Is a manager’s failure to specifically prohibit an employee from using a forklift to raise a wheelchair-bound co-worker to a mezzanine just cause for the manager’s termination from employment?

As incredible as those facts may seem, that was the issue that the Honourable Justice Peter Lauwers of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice was asked to resolve in the case of Barton v. Rona Ontario Inc., 2012 ONSC 3809 (CanLII).

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Zellers Class Action


Should dismissed Zellers employees consider a class action lawsuit for wrongful dismissal? Earlier this week The Toronto Star ran a story titled “Zellers employees walk away empty-handed in $1.825-billion deal.

The headline was not entirely accurate insofar as the story explains how long-term employees of the Canadian retailer were expecting to receive no more than their statutory termination pay following their termination.

Two questions thus emerge: (1) might the employees be entitled to more than statutory minimums? and (2) might it be prudent to consider a class action lawsuit against Zellers?

Costs of Hiring an Employment Lawyer


How much is hiring a wrongful dismissal lawyer going to cost me? When someone finds him or herself suddenly unemployed questions about the costs of services get serious. Legal services have long had a reputation of being expensive, and there may be a further perception that their cost may put them out of reach to some people. I wish to dispel that myth.

Income Tax and Wrongful Dismissal


Are wrongful dismissal damages taxable? Like the answer to most legal questions, the answer is it depends. Not all wrongful dismissal damages are taxable; those that are taxable do not always have to be. In this post I will be going over some of the basics of the income tax implications of starting a wrongful dismissal case.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Any Day can be a Holiday

Earlier this month I blogged about the nine “public holidays” under Ontario law and how the Civic Holiday, Remembrance Day, and Easter Sunday were not such holidays, see Public Holidays under the Ontario Employment Standards Act

It has occurred to me that I may have mistakenly left some readers with the impression that no Ontario employee was entitled to those days off as a holiday. That too is incorrect.

Employees' Rights to Privacy and Remedies for Their Employer's Breach of Such Right

Employers often have the actual ability to access their employees’ private email accounts. But do they have the legal right to do so?

Providing employees with mobile technology, such as smart phones, laptop computers, tablets, etc. has the potential to be a minefield for employers. As I wrote in a post titled Overtime Pay and Mobile Technology, providing employees with smart phones carries with it the real risk of exposing employers to claims for unpaid overtime.

Yet there is another risk that employers face when they provide their employees with mobile technology and fail to implement policies on the uses to which to those employees may put that technology: The risk that employees will use that technology for non-work related purposes.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Compensation for Injured Federal Government Employees


One of the interesting things about working in Ottawa is the number of diplomats that work and live in this city. Their presence serves as a constant reminder of how many diplomats Canada must also send out into the world to do our diplomatic work. As an Ottawa resident I too have friends in the foreign service, one of whom just returned from South America, the other currently on a three-year post to South-Asia.

Unfortunately, being a diplomat does not render one immune from accident or illness. Diplomats working outside of Canada are equally, if not more, likely to be injured or made ill while working abroad. How does the law treat these workers who are injured both at home and abroad?

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Public Holidays under the Ontario Employment Standards Act

For most workers in Ontario, the first Monday in August and Easter Monday are paid days off work. However, neither is a “public holiday” as defined by the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000. What that means is that the rules surrounding statutory holiday pay do not apply to “the Civic holiday” or to “Easter Monday.” But, that does not necessarily mean that they cannot be treated by any particular employer as a ‘holiday;' on this point see the post Any Day Can be a Holiday.

The points above provide an opening to discuss what the rules surrounding such holidays actually are.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Explaining The Duty to Mitigate

The duty on dismissed employees to mitigate their damages following dismissal is without question the most difficult employment law concept to have to explain. The issue is difficult not because of the subject matter, but because many people that have been fired without any reason and without sufficient notice, find the legal rule that they must now act in their employer’s interest a little displeasing.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Overtime Pay and Mobile Technology

In July of 2012, the CBC featured a story on the issue of unpaid overtime.

In that piece, the author essentially argued that, “Mobile technology has helped employers squeeze more productivity out of their employees, but all those hours of work while technically off the clock leaves them open to lawsuits over unpaid overtime.”

Here is why, from an Ontario employment perspective, the CBC author may be correct.