Monday, 26 May 2014

Time Limit to Sue for LTD Benefits

How long do you have to sue an insurance company after they deny you long-term disability (“LTD”) benefits? According to a now-reversed decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, if the benefits are provided as part of a group benefits plan, as most employee benefits are, it can be as little time as the insurance company says.

In a decision released in March of 2014, Kassburg v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, 2014 ONSC 1523 (CanLII), the Honourable Justice M. Gregory Ellies of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice held that a group policy of insurance, issued by an insurance company to an employer, was a “business agreement” under the law and accordingly the usual limitation period governing such policies of insurance did might not apply.

However, on December 29, 2014, the Court of Appeal for Ontario reversed Justice Ellies' decision, finding that such policies of insurance are not "business agreements" and that the time limit applicable to such claims is two years from the date such claims are "discovered." For a summary of the Court of Appeal's decision see: Court of Appeal says Group LTD Policies not "Business Agreements".

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Wal-Mart Rolls Back Award of Punitive Damages

In a decision released earlier this week, the Court of Appeal for Ontario reduced an award of punitive damages against a Wal-Mart manager from $150,000 to $10,000, and against Wal-Mart itself from $1,000,000 to $100,000. In the same decision, however, the court upheld the award of $100,000 in damages for intentional infliction of mental suffering against the manager, and the award of $200,000 in aggravated damages against Wal-Mart.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Human Rights Legislation does Not Apply to Partners

In a decision released today, the Supreme Court of Canada has held that British Columbia’s Human Rights Code, RSBC 1996, c. 210 does not apply to equity partners in law firms.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Employers required to train staff under the new Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Regulation

Being July 1st, 2014, every employer in the province of Ontario will need to comply with the Ministry of Labour’s new Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Regulation (O. Reg. 297/13) under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

As first mentioned by fellow Kelly Santini LLP employment lawyer Shawn O’Connor on the firm’s business law blog Start Up. Build Up. Sell Up. in the post All Employers Required to Train Staff Under New Health & Safety Act, this new legislation may catch many employers off-guard. Past training requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) have resulted in employers focusing on employees involved in physical work and the resulting risk of injury. The new legislation states that all employees must receive the minimum required training, including white collar and clerical staff, whom employers might not have associated with having a risk of injury in the workplace.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Federal Court of Appeal Affirms Decision that Employers Must Accommodate Employees' Childcare Obligations

On May 2, 2014, the Federal Court of Appeal confirmed that employers have a legal obligation to accommodate their employees' “childcare obligations” as a component of their duty to accommodate an employee’s “family status.”

In its decisions in the parallel cases of Canada (Attorney General) v. Johnstone, 2014 FCA 110 (CanLII) and Canadian National Railway v. Denise Seeley and Canadian Human Rights Commission the Federal Court of Appeal confirmed that the definition of “family status” in the Canadian Human Rights Act includes “parental obligations.”

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Employer Unable to Rely on Company Policy Not Incorporated into Employment Agreement

To what extent can employers rely on internal policies, not incorporated into an employment agreement, for determining employee rights and benefits? According to one decision from the British Columbia Supreme Court, very little.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

ONSC: Employee who Lives in Ontario but Worked in Alberta Cannot Sue in Ontario

If you live in Ontario, but move to Alberta for work, can you sue for wrongful dismissal in Ontario if you get fired and then move back? That, essentially, was the question posed in the case of Christmas v. Fort McKay, 2014 ONSC 373 (CanLII).

Thursday, 1 May 2014

SCC: Pregnant Women Have the Right to Refuse Unsafe Work Environments

(c) istock/PIKSEL

Does a pregnant woman have the legal right to refuse to work in an environment that is unsafe to her as a pregnant woman? According to a recent decision from the Supreme Court of Canada, concerning a Quebec law, the answer is yes, she does.