Latest Posts

Costly Tweeting: Employee Pays High Price for Breaching Settlement Agreement

It is common for many employers to choose to settle workplace disputes rather than litigate. When making this decision, employers are often mindful of two major benefits of settlement: (i) certainty and (ii) confidentiality. A recent arbitration decision in Nova Scotia provides a good example of how employers can respond when an employee’s breach of a settlement attacks one of the main purposes of settling in the first place.

In Acadia University v. Acadia University Faculty Association, a former university professor learned the hard way that breaching the terms of a settlement agreement is a serious matter that can have serious consequences.

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Keeping a Lid on It – Ontario Court of Appeal Reinforces 24 Months as Presumptive Limit for Reasonable Notice Awards

In February of this year, we warned employers about the potential implications of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice’s rather alarming decision in Dawe v. Equitable Insurance Company of Canada, in which the Court effectively challenged the long-standing, judicial presumption that, absent truly exceptional circumstances, common law notice of termination should not exceed 24 months (See: “Ontario Court Pushes the Envelope with 30 Month Reasonable Notice Award.”). That decision was ultimately appealed by the defendant employer on a number of grounds, including that the motion judge had erred in finding that the appropriate notice period in that case was 30 months.

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Recent and Upcoming Changes to Federal and Provincial Minimum Standards

Employers across Canada are being kept on their toes as the federal, provincial, and territorial governments continue to revise laws applicable to Canadian workplaces.

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Dos and Don’ts for Your Company Summer Party

A summer party can be a great way to bring your workplace together and build camaraderie. After all, who doesn’t enjoy taking a break from the office grind and spending social time with work friends? But as always, there are pitfalls for unwary employers so we’ve put together a tip sheet on how to avoid catastrophe at your next workplace shindig:

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The Enforceability of Employment Arbitration Agreements in Question

Some employers include arbitration clauses in their standard form employment agreements as the arbitration process can be a confidential and cost-effective method of resolving legal disputes with employees. However, the recent decision by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Rhinhart v. Legend 3D Canada Inc., 2019 ONSC 3296 (Rhinehart), calls into question the enforceability of arbitration clauses in employment agreements. As a result, employers who utilize such should review whether they wish to continue to do so given their limited value in employment relationships.

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Divisional Court Confirms Employee’s Desire to Return to Work, Without More, Does Not Trigger the Duty to Accommodate

The Divisional Court’s recent decision in Katz Group Canada Ltd. v. Clarke1 provides helpful guidance to employers on the scope of the duty to accommodate and an employee’s obligation to participate in the accommodation process.

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Ontario Court of Appeal Upholds Significant Costs Award against Former Employee in Colistro v. Tbaytel

In Colistro v. Tbaytel,1 the Ontario Court of Appeal considered the consequences of an employer’s decision to rehire an employee who had been dismissed from his employment years earlier amidst sexual harassment allegations. Although the decision highlights the risks of placing business interests ahead of the obligation to maintain a harassment-free workplace, it also provides guidance on the potential cost consequences of pursuing inflated damage awards in wrongful dismissal litigation.

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Bill 66 Becomes Law in Ontario

On April 2, 2019, the Ontario provincial government passed Bill 66, also known as the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act (the Act). The law purports to streamline various regulations that apply to businesses in an effort to make Ontario more competitive on the global and national market. The Act amends many different laws in the province but of particular note to Ontario employers are the following changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the ESA):

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Court of Appeal Rejects Recognition of New Negligence-Based Tort of Harassment

In a decision released on March 15, 2019, the Ontario Court of Appeal in Merrifield v. Canada, 2019 ONCA 205 overturned a lower court decision that had recognized an independent tort of harassment in the employment context. The case was brought by a former member of the RCMP who alleged that he had been harassed and bullied by his superior officers after they learned he had run for the nomination to be a Conservative Party of Canada candidate in the 2006 federal election without complying with RCMP regulations and first obtaining the requisite approval to take leave without pay for this purpose. Following a lengthy trial, the trial judge found that the employer was liable both for the existing tort of intentional infliction of mental suffering as well as for a new independent tort of harassment. 

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Employers' Anxious Wait is Over with the Arrival of the Federal Government's New EI Parental Sharing Benefit

Are we ready for this? Many first-time parents ask themselves this very question, especially as their baby’s due date approaches ever nearer. Now, with the federal government’s introduction on March 17, 2019 of its new Employment Insurance (“EI”) Parental Sharing Benefit, many Canadian employers will be joining them in pondering the very same thing. But in their case, the “this” will obviously have less to do with the trials and tribulations of childcare and more to do with navigating the potential rise in parental leave requests many are expecting to follow.

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Ontario Court of Appeal Upholds Extraordinary Award in Wrongful Dismissal Case

In Ruston v Keddco Mfg. (2011) Ltd., 2019 ONCA 125, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld an extraordinary award – totaling more than $1.1 million – against an employer that breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing in the manner in which it dismissed one of its former employees.

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A “Border Wall” of a Legal Kind

Ontario Labour Relations Board Holds that Only Ontario Payroll Matters in Determining Potential Employer Liability for Severance Pay

While every Canadian province requires employers to provide employees with a prescribed minimum amount of notice (or pay in lieu thereof) on termination without cause, Ontario is unique in that it is the only provincial jurisdiction where employees may also be eligible for statutory “severance pay”1.

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Ontario Court Pushes the Envelope with 30 Month Reasonable Notice Award in Employment Cases

Until recently, employers could be reasonably assured that Canadian courts would limit a dismissed employee’s entitlements to reasonable notice at common law to a maximum of 24 months. However, cases where exceptional circumstances have been found to justify notice periods in excess of 24 months have been appearing with increased frequency – especially in Ontario.

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Employers Must Update Employment Standards Posting – For Now

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has issued a new version of its Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) poster to reflect recent changes to employment standards in the province. Employers are obligated to post the new version in a conspicuous place in the workplace, provide a copy to any new hires and, where the majority of employees speak a language other than English, post a copy in that language alongside the English version (provided that the Ministry has a translated version of the poster available). A link to Version 8 of the ESA poster and the translated versions can be found here.

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Ontario Ministry of Labour Inspections Schedule

Ontario's Ministry of Labour has released its schedule of inspection initiatives for 2019. These inspections involve consideration of both health and safety and employment standards compliance in the workplace. The Ministry focuses on sectors where (a) there is a history of violations, (b) vulnerable workers like new and young workers, temporary foreign workers and precarious worker are employed, and (c) there has been an increase in the number of people employed.

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2018: The Year in Review in Employment Law

We often say there is rarely a dull moment in employment law. This year, however, has been exceptionally eventful. From a pendulum swing caused by the change in government to statutory obligations in Ontario, to #metoo, to the legalization of cannabis and its impact on the workplace, it has been an exciting year. We recap the major developments in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and for federally-regulated employers below.

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Bill 148 is Officially Unravelled as Bill 47, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018 Becomes Law

On November 21, 2018, Bill 47, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018, quickly passed third reading and received royal assent.

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Ontario Government May Delay Canada's First Pay Transparency Legislation

As of the date of writing, Ontario's Pay Transparency Act, 2018 (the Act) is set to come into force on January 1, 2019. The Act, which we initially reported on back in March 2018 and April 2018, was introduced by Ontario’s former Liberal government in March 2018 and is the first legislation of its kind in Canada. It aims to address wage gaps based on gender and promote pay transparency in the workplace by requiring employers to maintain, track and publish employee compensation information.

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Reminder for Employers in Ontario: Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015 in Force on November 1, 2018

Although employers in Ontario are no doubt preoccupied with the recently introduced Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018 (summarized in our recent article available here), they should also be reminded that the Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015 comes into force on November 1, 2018. The Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015 creates a comprehensive regime governing police record checks in Ontario in an effort to respond to widespread concerns around the disclosure of non-criminal and non-conviction information through the existing police record check processes. For more information about the new rules governing police record checks in Ontario, please see our article summarizing the Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015, available here.

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Unravelling Bill 148 – The Making Ontario Open for Business Act Has Arrived

Significant changes to labour and employment laws in Ontario may again be on the horizon.

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