Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Stated Intention to Retire May Reduce Wrongful Dismissal Damages

Can publicly announcing one’s intention to retire from employment serve to reduce an employee’s entitlement to wrongful dismissal damages if the employee is later terminated without cause?

According to a decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Kimball v Windsor Raceway Inc, 2014 ONSC 3286, an employee’s stated intention to retire and therefore not look for new employment following termination "may well be relevant in assessing what constitutes reasonable notice.”

Monday, 29 December 2014

Federal Court says Terminations Without Cause are Not Intrinsically "Unjust"

Did the Federal Court’s decision in Atomic Energy of Canada Limited v Wilson, 2013 FC 733 put an end to federally regulated employees’ complaints of unjust dismissal?

For the reasons that follow, I argue that it did not – although the decision did certainly curtail the opportunity for employees to complain of having been unjustly dismissed.

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 fictitious 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.