Fixed Term Contract Costs Funeral Home Almost $1.3 million

Sreya, September 6, 2019

In a recent decision by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, a North-Bay Funeral Home was ordered to pay almost $1.3 million to a constructively dismissed employee on a fixed-term contract. Facts Mr. McGuinty used to be an owner of McGuinty Funeral Home. In 2012, he sold his shares in the business and agreed to […]

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10 Major Changes for Federally Regulated Employers

Rachel, September 5, 2019

Most workplaces in Ontario are provincially regulated and subject to provincial employment laws. However, there are a significant number of workplaces in this country that are federally regulated and governed by the Canada Labour Code. In fact, there are currently over 18,000 employers and 900,000 employees that are subject to federal regulation. These federal workplaces […]

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Why Employers Must Do Their Own Medical Follow-Ups

Brian, August 30, 2019

What should an employer do when disability benefits have been denied but the employee says they’re still too sick to work? One of the most challenging issues that human resources needs to address, and on which we advise as employment lawyers, is managing employees’ medical absences. When our employees claim disability benefits, we often breathe […]

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Uncomplicating Your Complicated Workplace Investigation

Alison, August 21, 2019

In these lingering weeks of summer, when hopefully work is a little slower and there is time for office clean up, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on whether or not your workplace policies need some tweaking. Let’s consider your harassment policy. As a lawyer who does a lot of workplace investigations, the first thing […]

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Should a Respondent be placed on suspension during an investigation?

Asha, August 16, 2019

We are often asked the question whether a respondent in an investigation (person who allegations are made against) should be placed on suspension with or without pay while an investigation regarding harassment, violence and/or discrimination takes place. Oftentimes we see cases where employers remove respondents from the workplace automatically without considering the type of offence, […]

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Termination Clauses Under Attack Again: Just Cause and Wilful Misconduct

Christine, August 9, 2019

Thanks to a recent case, employee counsel now have a new arrow in their quiver to attack a written termination clause in an employment agreement. That arrow is labelled “wilful misconduct”. It is trite law that in the rare circumstance when an employer terminates for “just cause”, the employee is entitled to no notice or […]

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Investigate even when the respondent refuses to participate

Natasha, July 29, 2019

Ideally, your investigation process goes something like this: you learn of an incident or complaint and meet with the complainant. You meet with the respondent to hear his/her version of events. You interview witnesses and, if necessary, speak to the complainant and respondent again to ask any follow up questions. You write your report and […]

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National Payroll or Provincial Payroll when Determining Severance Pay Eligibility?

Maryanne, July 22, 2019

In Ontario, the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) provides employer guidance as to the statutory entitlements an employee is entitled to at termination. The two payments of importance are: termination pay: the employer must provide the employee with the appropriate notice or pay in lieu of notice, based on the employee’s years of service with […]

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Help yourself by helping your former employees

Sreya, July 15, 2019

It is established law, that when employees sue for wrongful dismissal they have a duty to look for another job. This is known as mitigation. In other words, our laws require employees who have been terminated from their employment, to help themselves. Employees in these situations can help themselves by looking for jobs, applying for […]

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Crossing a “t” and dotting an “I” may save employers severance costs

Christine, July 11, 2019

There is an abundance amount of focus (rightly so) on employers both large and small to have their employee sign employment agreements with termination clauses in an effort to limit an employer’s liability under the common law upon termination. Once the employee signs the employment agreement it is incumbent on the employer to stay on […]

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What Software Licences (and the Ontario Court of Appeal) Can Teach Us About Bonus Plans

Brian, July 8, 2019

I have a confession to make. Even though, as a lawyer, I believe pretty strongly in reading things before I sign them, I don’t think I’ve ever read through the terms and conditions on a software license before clicking “accept”. Most of us don’t. We assume the terms are standard and won’t significantly affect our […]

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The Right to Disconnect: Legal Issues You Should Consider

Alison, July 4, 2019

When a manager or employer communicates with staff outside working hours, they are sometimes uncertain what is expected of them. Are they supposed to respond immediately? Can it wait until they are at work? Will they be paid for the time they spend responding? An employee may even, in more extreme circumstances, feel harassed because […]

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Failing to address harassment and investigate costs employer nearly $200,000

Natasha, June 18, 2019

Ignoring and employee’s claim of workplace harassment has proven costly for an Ontario employer that was ordered to pay almost $200,000 in damages, including $50,000 in aggravated damages for failing to investigate and discipline the harasser. Heidi Bassanese was a 73-year-old administrative clerk who worked for German Canadian News Company Limited for 19 years. On […]

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Surprising Ways Social Media Recruiting Leads to Discrimination

Maryanne, June 11, 2019

In the not-so-distant past, if an employer wanted to hire someone they would post an ad in a newspaper or magazines, on internal corkboards or, more recently, on the internet. Now employers are turning to social media to recruit and select candidates. It’s easy to see the appeal. Social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, […]

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Has there been an increase in notice periods?

Sreya, May 31, 2019

The purpose of common law notice is to provide a bridge between jobs. To determine the length of that “bridge”, the courts assess how long it would take an employee to secure alternative employment. In making this assessment, courts primarily look at the employee’s age, length of service, character of employment and compensation. That is […]

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Health and Safety is getting more expensive

Rachel, May 16, 2019

The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”) and its regulations set out the rights and obligations for a number of workplace parties, including employers, supervisors, workers, and constructors. If a party has been found to have violated the OHSA, it can be charged with an offence under the Provincial Offences Act. A charge can […]

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A Cautionary Termination Tale

Brian, May 10, 2019

Treat employees with dignity when they’re being terminated. Listen to their side of the story before asserting cause. Be careful about what you say in the media, especially in a small community. These are the lessons from a recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision, which provides a cautionary tale for employers. Craig Johnston was […]

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The Ramifications of rehiring a harasser

Alison, May 3, 2019

A decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal in Colistro v. Tbaytel provides some important guidance on the consequences of rehiring an employee who was previously terminated for harassment. The preamble to the decision explains the issues succinctly: This appeal considers the consequences that flow from a company’s decision to place its business interests above […]

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Free to be me: gender identity and gender expression in the workplace

Natasha, April 22, 2019

Gender identity and gender expression have come to the forefront of news headlines in recent years. Caitlyn Jenner’s transition from male to female brought a lot of attention to the topic, and has made significant inroads in generating discussion. More recently, singer Sam Smith identified as non-binary. We are also seeing the issue raised in […]

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Those ESA Posters can come down now…

Christine, April 16, 2019

On April 3, 2019, Bill 66 Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act became law and received Royal Assent in the Ontario legislature. As the Ford Government promised, Bill 66 brings further statutory changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA)¸ the Labour Relations Act (LRA), and the Pension Benefit Act (PBA) with the objective to cut down […]

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Workplace Harassment and Violence and Long-term Care Workers

Maryanne, April 2, 2019

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) represents 25,000 long-term care workers across the province. A recent survey commissioned by CUPE of over 1,000 long-term care workers, including personal support workers and registered practical nurses, revealed some startling figures:  nearly 50% of those polled experience hitting or pushing on a daily or weekly basis, 63% […]

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Can employees sue for harassment?

Sreya, March 25, 2019

As of 2018, employees have the option of seeking chronic mental stress benefits under section 13(5) of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (“WSIA”). In a recent case, the Divisional Court has upheld a decision of the Grievance Settlement Board’s finding that it did not have jurisdiction to award damages as a remedy for grievances […]

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The most valuable clause in an employment contract. What is a termination provision?

Rachel, March 18, 2019

The most valuable provision in an employment contract is without a doubt the termination provision. The goal of a termination clause is to avoid the very significant cost of common law notice by fixing the termination entitlement at the outset. However, employers do not have free reign when it comes to the termination clauses in […]

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Frustration Can Happen Against Your Wishes

Brian, March 8, 2019

I rarely intend to get frustrated, but every now and then, frustration will happen despite my best efforts. According to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the same can be true for frustration of employment contracts. “Frustration,” in the legal sense, means that a contract can no longer be performed through no fault of either […]

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Can an employer treat employees with different types of disabilities differently?

Alison, March 4, 2019

We all know the fundamental principles of accommodation. Employers are required to accommodate a disabled employee to the point of undue hardship. This obligation exists under the Human Rights Code and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 with the result that employers have to accommodate employees with workplace injuries as well as disabilities that […]

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Paying for Justice (or not)?

Christine, February 22, 2019

Lawyers and their fees are a topic about which many people have an opinion. Litigation is costly and there is no question that engaging a lawyer can be expensive for all parties involved. The type of arrangement a terminated employee has with their lawyer can impact litigation strategy and the ability to settle the case. […]

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Short service employees can be entitled to longer notice periods

Natasha, February 15, 2019

Short service doesn’t always mean a shorter period of reasonable notice. Common law reasonable notice is determined based on a number of factors but often three are key: age, nature of the employee’s position and length of service. Absent other factors like inducement that would put upward pressure on the notice period, short service has […]

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Ending the stigma of mental illness

Maryanne, January 30, 2019

Today marks the 9th annual Bell Let’s Talk Day, which aims to break the silence around mental illness, and help support those living with mental illness in Canada. The Canadian Mental Health Association estimates that 1 in 5 Canadians live with a mental illness or mental health problem in any given year. Sadly, many individuals […]

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Plaintiff awarded $546,684 in costs in a wrongful dismissal action

Sreya, January 23, 2019

In the recent case of Ruston v Keddco Mfg. the court granted one of the largest cost awards ever against the employer in a wrongful dismissal action. Here’s what happened. Keddco fired its president, Scott Ruston, for alleged fraud and breach of fiduciary duty and refused to provide a severance package. Ruston sued Keddco for […]

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Smile, You’re on Candid Camera: Employees Recording Conversations at Work

Brian, January 21, 2019

With the advent of smartphones, it is easier than ever for an employee to record a conversation with a coworker or supervisor without that person being aware. When I deliver training to managers and human resources professionals, I am often asked whether these recordings are legal. Certainly, they are legal in a criminal law sense: […]

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Bill C-86: Big Changes to Federal Workplace Legislation

Rachel, January 9, 2019

While most workplaces in Ontario are governed by provincial employment legislation, there are a number of federally regulated industries that are governed by the Canada Labour Code. Those industries include shipping, railways, air transportation, telecommunication, radio broadcasting, banking and inter-provincial transportation. In December 2018, the federal government passed Bill C-86, which makes significant amendments to […]

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Alison, January 4, 2019

The tribunal cluster under which the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (“HRTO”) falls, is undergoing a change. Effective January 1, 2019, the Ontario government has created a new cluster tribunal. Called Tribunals Ontario, with a newly appointed executive chair to oversee it, Tribunals Ontario will be responsible for the 19 tribunals that fell under the […]

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Bill 66: A Holiday gift for Employers?

Christine, December 21, 2018

On December 6, 2018, the Ontario government introduced by way of a first reading, Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act. Bill 66 is the second in a series of bills through Ontario’s Open for Business Action Plan wherein the government’s objective as the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade posted on its website […]

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Family status accommodation for childcare and reinstatement upon return from maternity leave have reasonable limits

Natasha, December 12, 2018

An Ontario court decision addresses family status and maternity leave issues under the Human Rights Code (the “Code”), the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) and the common law. Tina Peternel had worked for Custom Granite & Marble Ltd. as a scheduler for over two and half years when she took maternity leave after giving […]

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Injured workers at risk?

Maryanne, December 10, 2018

According to a recent Toronto Star article, understaffing, long wait times and a failing case management system at the WSIB are putting vulnerable workers at risk by not improving recovery time for injured workers or meeting injured workers needs. The article also notes that chaos at the WSIB is jeopardizing the safety of Ontario’s workplaces […]

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Bill 47: Amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the Ontario Labour Relations Act

Lauren, December 7, 2018

Outlined below is a description of the changes that will be effective January 1, 2019 with respect to both the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the Ontario Labour Relations Act. Here are a few things to consider with respect to the changes. As has always been the case, employers must comply with the minimum standards […]

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Audit Reveals WSIB Denied 94% of Claims for Chronic Mental Stress this Year

Asha, December 4, 2018

An internal audit conducted by the WSIB and obtained by The Star revealed that between January and May, just 10 of the 159 claims for work-related chronic mental stress claims were approved. While this may be welcome news to employers, worker advocates have cited the “stringent test” that workers must establish in order to obtain […]

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Federal harassment and violence bill receives Royal Assent

Maryanne, November 30, 2018

On October 25, 2018, Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1, received Royal Assent. Bill C-65 amends the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act to […]

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Survey confirms that Canadians are exposed to rampant bullying at work

Sreya, November 23, 2018

While most employers will agree that harassment and bullying should never be part of our workplaces, survey shows otherwise. Earlier this week, the Toronto Star published an article about a Forum Survey which sampled more than 1,800 Canadians and found that over half the sample group reported being bullied or witnessed a co-worker be bullied. […]

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Pizza driver awarded $28,000 after misclassified as contractor

Rachel, November 19, 2018

The Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”), provides a number of minimum entitlements to most employees in Ontario, including minimum wage, vacation pay, over time pay, and termination pay. Individuals that are true independent contractors are not covered by the ESA and are not afforded its protections. In the case between Pizza Driver, Juan Jose […]

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No Liability for Negative Employment References

Rachel, November 15, 2018

In the recent decision of Kanak v. Riggin, 2018 ONCA 345, the Ontario Court of Appeal affirmed that a manager was not liable for providing a negative employment reference. The case originated when Tracey Kanak sued her former manager for defamation after he gave her a negative employment reference. Darryl Riggin admitted to providing a […]

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Divisional Court to hear judicial review of $200,000 award issued by HRTO

Alison, November 9, 2018

Earlier in 2018, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (“HRTO”) issued a decision awarding $200,000 to an applicant, the highest monetary award to date. In A.B. v. Joe Singer Shoes Limited, 2018 HRTO 107, the HRTO determined that the personal respondent (the store owner), the employee’s employer and landlord, sexually harassed and solicited the employee […]

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Is age fluid?

Alison, November 8, 2018

Dutch citizen Emile Ratelband doesn’t feel the age that is reflected on his birth certificate – 69. He is in good physical and mental condition and feels like he is 40 or 45 years old. He has asked a Dutch court to change his birth certificate from March 11, 1949 to March 11, 1969 to […]

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Cannabis Posting Requirements for Employers

Maryanne, November 5, 2018

Bill 36, the Cannabis Law Statute Amendment Act, 2018 created the new Cannabis Licensing Act, 2018, and amended a number of provincial statutes by integrating the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada. Bill 36 legalized the use of medical and recreational cannabis to locations where smoking tobacco is permitted under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 […]

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Breastfeeding in Public is a Human Right

Brian, October 30, 2018

A woman in Calgary is planning to file a human rights complaint after her insurance adjuster insisted she leave a meeting because she was breastfeeding her son. The baby was mostly out of sight under the mother’s headscarf, but the insurance adjuster still told her that she was making him “very uncomfortable” and she shouldn’t […]

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Important Legal Update! The Ontario government’s has repealed portions of Bill 148

admin, October 26, 2018

Less than a year after the legislation took effect on January 1, 2018, the new provincial government made good on its promises on October 23 to repeal certain parts of Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017. Bill 148 was passed by the Liberal government in late November 2017, making controversial and significant changes […]

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Can an employee put in a claim for CMS benefits under the WSIA AND claim mental stress damages at arbitration?

Asha, October 25, 2018

An Ontario Grievance Settlement Board (“GSB”) decision has provided some well-needed clarity on the question of whether an employee is able to claim losses and damages flowing from mental stress from employer actions that are alleged to be discriminatory and harassing in nature. In OPSEU and Ontario (Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Service, the […]

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The Legalization of Cannabis in Canada and the Workplace: What Employers Need to Know

Christine, October 19, 2018

The ushering in of legalized recreational cannabis in Canada this week if it has not done so already, will likely shift cultural attitudes and the social acceptance of cannabis use. However, when it comes to the workplace, this new legislation does not significantly change the duties and obligations of employees and employers with respect to […]

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Myths and Misconceptions About Sexual Harassment

Lauren, October 15, 2018

The issue of sexual harassment has been on the front page of newspapers, as well as the front burner of dinner table conversations for the last year. What has become apparent through these discussions is how little we truly understand about sexual harassment (and sexual assault). Sometimes it is politically expedient to ignore the truth […]

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On the horizon of Cannabis legalization…

Maryanne, October 9, 2018

The question that remains for many workplaces ahead of the legalization of cannabis is: are workplaces ready? With the legalization of cannabis only a few days away, the Ontario Human Rights Commission says we are. While we are entering into a period of uncertainty and of a new reality, the OHRC says that employees cannot […]

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Federal government will implement a new five-week parental leave benefit

Alison, October 1, 2018

Last week, the federal Families Minister tweeted that the federal government will implement a new five-week parental leave benefit three months sooner than scheduled. Now effective March 2019, the new parental leave benefit will provide five additional weeks of Employment Insurance (EI) benefits when two-parent families, including adoptive and same-sex parents, agree to share some […]

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Recent decision acts as a reminder to employers

Sreya, September 17, 2018

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal recently held that it is discriminatory to differentiate against job applicants with valid work-permits, and those candidates who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents. In Haseeb v. Imperial Oil Limited, the employee alleged that Imperial Oil’s policy regarding the need for recent graduates to furnish proof of citizenship or permanent-residence […]

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Corporate Mergers and Restructuring’s May Lead to Constructive Dismissal Claims for Canadian Employees

Christine, September 13, 2018

The recent decision of Robinson v. H.J. Heinz Company of Canada LP, 2018 ONSC 3424 (“Heinz”) is a reminder that companies need to be cognizant of the effect corporate restructurings or mergers have on its Canadian workforce. A company failing to proactively deal with and plan for a restructuring on its workforce can result in […]

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Rogue decision on extended LTD absences waiting to be appealed?

Brian, July 24, 2018

Typically, employers have not been allowed to terminate employees for frustration of contract (i.e., for being unable to do their job due to a disability), if the employee qualifies for long-term disability benefits. If there’s an LTD plan, an employee being absent due to disability for an extended period of time cannot frustrate the employment […]

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Are Canadian workplaces ready for Cannabis legalization?

Rachel, July 4, 2018

Are Canadian workplaces ready for Cannabis legalization? According to a recent report by the Conference Board of Canada, the answer is no. The report finds that employers are not fully prepared for the impending legalization of Cannabis (effective October 17, 2018). The report reviews survey results and literature on cannabis to identify its potential impact […]

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Orange executives ordered to stand trial over their alleged roles in a wave of staff suicides.

Alison, June 26, 2018

Seven executives who worked for France’s Telecom (which is now Orange) have been ordered to stand trial over their alleged roles in a wave of staff suicides. The executives, ranging from the former heads of the company, human resources, and a deputy CEO, stand accused of engaging in or assisting psychological harassment over the suicides […]

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Significant (and lengthy) interim decision about the automatic elimination of health and dental benefits for those employees who turn 65 years of age.

Alison, June 18, 2018

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (“HRTO”) has issued a significant (and lengthy) interim decision about the automatic elimination of health and dental benefits for those employees who turn 65 years of age. The automatic elimination is permitted by the Human Rights Code in conjunction with the Employment Standards Act (“ESA”). In a case involving […]

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The Ontario Court of Appeal recently endorsed that the duty of good faith doctrine applies to termination decisions.

Sreya, June 18, 2018

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently endorsed that the duty of good faith doctrine applies to termination decisions. In Mohamed v. Information Systems Architects Inc., the Ontario Court of Appeal held that the company breached its duty of good faith when it terminated its relationship with an independent contractor due to the contractor’s previous criminal […]

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The final products! We received the emoji planters our team created and painted 3 weeks ago at 4Cats Art Studio. Wh…
Hopefully you learned plenty about employment agreements during the @OMHRAtweets session, presented by Lauren Berna…
RT @MunicipalWorld: Lauren Bernardi (from @Bernardi_HR_Law) and David Godwaldt (from @cityofguelph) speak with #OMHRA delegates about the d…

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