Sunday, 24 February 2013

Expect Privacy? Put a Password on It.

This blog, as well as other employment law blogs, heralded the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in R. v. Cole as a watershed moment for defining an employee’s rights to privacy with employer-provided technology.

However, as our friends at the criminal defence bar are quick to point out, Cole was a criminal case, decided mostly with reference to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ protection of the right to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure.

Last week the Court of Appeal for Ontario released another decision concerning Charter rights, and the right to search technology, R. v. Fearon, 2013 ONCA 106 (CanLII), and again, this employment lawyer cannot help but give it consideration notwithstanding the fact that it is, strictly speaking, a criminal decision.

Small Claims Court Judge’s Wrongful Dismissal Error Results in Redo

When the monetary limit of the Ontario Small Claims Court was raised from $10,000 to $25,000 on January 1, 2010, small claims became a big deal to most Ontario employment lawyers. $25,000 is not an insignificant amount of money, and a lot of wrongful dismissal cases can be reasonably worth between $20,000 - $30,000. Given the costs of a Superior Court action, both in terms of actual dollars and time, litigating a case in the Small Claims Court and waiving one’s entitlement to damages in excess of $25,000 can make a lot of sense.

It is for those reasons that it is important that our Small Claims Court Deputy Judges, and those appearing before them, have a solid understanding of employment law issues. One of the most fundamental of issues is when an employer will have just cause to terminate an employee without the provision of notice or payment in lieu thereof.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Setting Co-Worker on Fire Not Just Cause for Dismissal

(c) istock/leolintang

Is setting your co-worker on fire “just cause” for termination? “No”, says a decision from a British Columbia Labour Arbitrator.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Lack of Concrete Time Limit in Non-Competition Clause Unreasonable

The Court of Appeal for Ontario has ruled that a non-competition and non-solicitation agreement used by a construction company was unenforceable because the applicable time limit was not concrete.

In Martin v. ConCreate USL Limited Partnership, 2013 ONCA 72 (CanLII), released February 5, 2013 the Court of Appeal reversed an earlier Application decision, 2012 ONSC 1840, of the Honourable Justice Paul Perell, who had found the agreements enforceable.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Employers Must Accommodate Parents - What It Means

On January 31st, 2013, a Federal Court judge affirmed a 2010 ruling of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that said that employers have a duty to accommodate “childcare obligations” as a component of their duty to accommodate an employee’s “family status.” On May 2, 2014, the Federal Court of Appeal varied the Federal Court’s ruling slightly, but for reasons immaterial to this post. In all other respects the court upheld the decision in favour of Ms. Johnstone.

The facts of the case and the courts’ decisions have left many Canadians, both employees and employers, asking questions about what the decision means for them.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Why Your Organization Needs a Social Media Policy

Imagine, for a moment, the most ridiculous act of self-harm that an individual could do himself. Did you imagine stapling your scrotum to a 4 x 4 wooden plank, and then uploading to YouTube a video of you doing that while wearing your work shirt? Because someone actually did that, and it partially speaks to why your business of organization needs a social media policy.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Is There a Duty on Employers to Remain Profitable?

A provocative question was asked this week: does an employer owe its employees a duty to remain profitable? That was the question that the Honourable Justice Edward Morgan of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice was asked to answer in the recently decided case of Lochran v. Duro-Test Canada Co., 2013 ONSC 706 (CanLII). Justice Morgan’s answer was no, it does not.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Breaking Cardinal Rule Not Just Cause

The opening words of the trial judge’s reasons for decision in Plester v. Polyone Canada Inc., 2011 ONSC 6068 (CanLII), affirmed by the Court of Appeal for Ontario earlier this week (2013 ONCA 47 (CanLII)) might leave some employers with the impression that the case would be one where the court would find just cause for dismissal: “Mr. Plester made a serious mistake at work.” Those impressions would be mistaken.

In a decision released in late November 2011 and affirmed on appeal on January 28th of this year, the Honourable Justice Bonnie J. Wein held that the breaking of an employer’s “Cardinal rule” was not just cause for dismissal.