Sunday, 28 July 2013

Intention Not a Requirement for Discrimination

"But I didn't mean to." Those words, often offered in defence of an allegation of discrimination, beg a frequent question in human rights law: is intent a requirement for an infringement of someone's rights? That is to say, must someone intend to infringe someone's right before a violation can happen?

As recently affirmed by the Court of Appeal for Ontario in the case of Peel Law Association v. Pieters, 2013 ONCA 396, the answer is no.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Do I Have to Accept Salary Continuance as Part of my Severance Package?

There is no shortage of ways to structure a severance package. A common way for employers to attempt to terminate an employee's employment, while keeping cash flow in check, is to provide the dismissed employee with "salary continuance," i.e. payment of salary over a period of time, rather than paying the employee a lump sum. A question that I am often asked is, can the employer legally require the employee to accept salary continuance?

Like most of the answers in our series Answers to Common Questions, the answer is "it depends"

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Can You Be Fired For a Good Deed?

It has been said that no good deed goes unpunished. That saying was apparently proven this week when an Ottawa-area woman was allegedly fired for confronting a customer about leaving a dog in his car while he shopped.

The story has received much media attention. On Thursday, a story appeared in the Ottawa Citizen in which former Wal-Mart employee Carla Cheney alleged that she was fired for confronting a customer after witnessing him lock his Newfoundlander in his car. (Story here: Wal-Mart worker says she was fired for confronting customer over dog locked in car.) According to Environment Canada, temperatures measured at the Ottawa airport for the day on which she confronted the customer ranged from a low of 16.2 degrees at 11:00 PM to a high of 23.4 at 2:00 PM.

In a follow-up story in the same paper, Wal-Mart says employee wasn't fired for trying to help dog, it was reported that Wal-Mart denied, via a Facebook post, that Cheney was fired for trying to help the dog. Wal-Mart declined to say why she was fired, however, citing respect for Cheney and privacy concerns.

The questions some have asked are: "Is this legal?" "Is this allowed?" "Is this just cause?" and "Is this right?" Allow me to muse.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

If I Reject a Severance Offer Does it Mean I Get Nothing?

(c) istock/pixelheadphoto

If you get fired and your employer offers a severance package what happens if you think, or are told, that the package is not fair or reasonable? The short answer is that you should advise your employer that you are rejecting their offer and want to be paid more. But, as I am often asked, does that mean that the employee may end up getting nothing?

The answer to the question, "If an employee rejects a severance offer will he or she get nothing?", is almost certainly "no."