Canadian Labour and Employment Law

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Kevin Coon Certified as a Specialist in Labour Law by the Law Society of Upper Canada

George Avraam Posted in Firm News
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Baker & McKenzie is proud to announce that Kevin Coon, Labour, Employment and Managing Partner – Canada, has been certified as a Specialist in Labour Law by the Law Society of Upper Canada. The Law Society’s Certified Specialist Program recognizes a small number of practitioners who have met established standards of experience and knowledge requirements in the designated area of law and have maintained exemplary standards of professional practice.

Kevin brings years of hands-on experience in managing labour relations, both locally and globally, to bear in assisting clients with union organizing campaigns, collective bargaining, grievance arbitration, day-to-day relationship issues, supervisor training, and Labour Board complaints, among other areas. He also acts as counsel, and as trusted and strategic advisor, in human resource, employment, regulatory, compliance and risk management, corporate social responsibility, and ethics matters.

Kevin assists clients in managing global labour relations in a climate of increasingly stringent expectations and rapidly evolving regulatory requirements, including international human and labour rights standards and global supply chain compliance obligations. This includes, first, proactive work to integrate mitigation of human and labour rights risk into the enterprise’s risk management system; secondly, assisting corporate clients to plan, respond and manage “corporate campaigns” by global union federations and NGO’s, complaints under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Employers, labour provisions under trade agreements, codes of conduct, supply chain codes of practice, complaints to the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association, International Framework Agreements; and, thirdly, assisting clients with various reporting requirements related to forced labour, human trafficking and other core labour and human rights.

During the course of his career, Kevin has worked at the forefront of global efforts to interpret and draft international human and labour rights standards. He has served on the annual Canadian Delegation to the ILO International Labour Conference, including as Employer Chair on a Committee of Experts, the Committee on the Application of International Labour Standards, the ILO Drafting Committees, and the Employer Working Group on Corporate Social Responsibility, in addition to a number of other appointments. He has had an insider view of policy development, legislative and regulatory enforcement, having worked at various points in his career for the Minister of Labour, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Kevin brings this diverse background and wealth of experience to the aid of corporate clients.

At the request of the United Nations Global Compact, Kevin led a team charged with mobilizing global consultations and preparing the Business for the Rule of Law Framework of the United Nations Global Compact, which aims to provide guidance on how companies can take voluntary action to support the rule of law in their business operations and agreements, codes of conduct, supply chain codes of practice, complaints to the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association, International Framework Agreements; and, thirdly, assisting clients with various reporting requirements related to forced labour, human trafficking and other core labour and human rights.

During the course of his career, Kevin has worked at the forefront of global efforts to interpret and draft international human and labour rights standards. He has served on the annual Canadian Delegation to the ILO International Labour Conference, including as Employer Chair on a Committee of Experts, the Committee on the Application of International Labour Standards, the ILO Drafting Committees, and the Employer Working Group on Corporate Social Responsibility, in addition to a number of other appointments. He has had an insider view of policy development, legislative and regulatory enforcement, having worked at various points in his career for the Minster of Labour, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Kevin brings this diverse background and wealth of experience to the aid of corporate clients.

At the request of the United Nations Global Compact, Kevin led a team charged with mobilizing global consultations and preparing the Business for the Rule of Law Framework of the United Nations Global Compact, which aims to provide guidance on how companies can take voluntary action to support the rule of law in their business operations and relationships. The Framework was prepared in support of the launch of Agenda 2030: the Sustainable Development Goals and was launched at the UNGC Global Leaders Summit in June 2015. In support of the Trust Women Foundation, Kevin led a team that prepared a report on Managing Corporate Supply Chains: Challenges & Successes in the Fight to Combat Forced Labour and Human Trafficking.

Kevin also devotes his time and talents to a number of pro bono activities including holding roles within the UNGC Sustainable Supply Chain Working Group, Trust Women Anti-Trafficking and Slavery initiatives, UNGC Business for the Rule of Law Working Group, UNGC Local Network, and Covenant House.

In addition to this prestigious certification for Labour Law, Kevin is a Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional (a designation conferred by the Society for Corporate Compliance and Ethics) and he was recently recognized by Legal 500 and highlighted for his ‘invaluable commitment’.

To read Kevin’s full biography, please follow this link.

First in Class: Independent Contractor Class Action Certified in Canada

Jennifer Bernardo Posted in Employment Standards

On July 27, 2016, an Ontario court certified a class action against Just Energy, a natural gas and electricity retailer, in which 7,000 of its sales agents claimed they were misclassified as independent contractors.

The case, Omarali v. Just Energy, is the first of its kind to be certified in Canada. If the sales agents are successful, the company could face large liabilities relating to unpaid wages (including overtime, vacation and public holiday pay) and unremitted income taxes and other required deductions.

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Are Employers Responsible for Protecting Their Employees on Social Media? “Yes” According to a Recent Decision

Mark Mendl Posted in Occupational Health & Safety, Social Media & Technology, Unions & Labour Relations

Does the workplace extend into cyberspace?  In a precedent setting decision with potentially far-reaching implications, a labour arbitrator has found an employer liable for failing to protect its workers from harassment and discrimination in customer posts on the employer’s Twitter account (Toronto Transit Commission and ATU, Local 113, 2016 CarswellOnt 10550).  Employers using social media to communicate with clients, customers or the general public may need to rethink how to they respond to uncivil, abusive or threatening online posts targeting their workers.

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Pokémon Whoa – Reality Game App Creates Unprecedented Risks for Employers

Mark Mendl Posted in Occupational Health & Safety, Social Media & Technology

Catch ’em all!  Pokémon Go is a mobile game that uses “augmented” reality to create a virtual scavenger hunt.  In the quest to catch ’em all, over 15 million people have downloaded the Pokémon Go game since its recent release.  Employers have grappled with employees’ personal use of electronic devices during work hours since gaming fads such as Candy Crush and Draw Something were released.  However, beyond creating a simple distraction in the workplace, the explosion of Pokémon Go subjects employers to potentially costly risks, including worker safety issues, lost productivity, data breach possibilities, and misuse of company resources.

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EEOC Announces Revised Proposal for U.S. Employers to Report Pay and Hours Data

George Avraam Posted in Employment Standards, Legislative & Regulatory Changes

Canadian businesses with operations in the United States should be aware that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently unveiled its amended proposal to collect summary pay data from employers with 100 or more employees. Under the proposed amendments, employers who already file an Employer Information Report (EEO-1) will be required to also report pay to U.S. employees by gender, race, and ethnicity, across 12 pay bands, by March 31, 2018. Covered employers should start considering now how to adjust their pay, collection, and reporting processes for their U.S. operations.

To learn more about the proposed regulation’s impact on employers, please click here.

Supreme Court of Canada: A Dismissal “Without Cause” is an “Unjust Dismissal” (Part III of the Canada Labour Code)

Jordan Kirkness Posted in Employment Contracts, Employment Standards, Jurisdiction, Termination of Employment

On July 14, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that most federally-regulated, non-union employees can only be dismissed for “just cause” after 12 consecutive months of service (Wilson v. Atomic Energy, 2016 SCC 29). As a result of this decision, it is now clear that employees who are regulated under Part III of the Canada Labour Code cannot, following their first year of employment, simply be provided with termination notice or pay in lieu, absent a compelling reason for terminating the employment relationship. Continue Reading

Global Employment Handbooks: 1 Size Does Not Fit All

George Avraam Posted in Workplace Organization & Direction

The following article, authored by my colleagues Susan F. Eandi, Louise Balsan and Caroline Burnett, examines the importance of global employment handbooks and why multinationals cannot simply rely on their domestic handbook as they expand abroad. The authors present three primary approaches for multinationals to consider as they prepare their global handbooks. Although written in the context of U.S. multinationals, many of the principles discussed in the article have application to Canadian multinationals as well.

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AODA & Customer Service: 5 Key Changes Effective July 1, 2016

Jordan Kirkness Posted in Human Rights & Accommodation, Legislative & Regulatory Changes

Regulations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act changed on July 1, 2016. The Accessibility Standards for Customer Service were revoked, and a modified version of those standards has been incorporated into the Integrated Accessibility Standards. As a result, organizations must implement the following changes: Continue Reading

The Pendulum Swings Back: The Court of Appeal Rules Termination Clause Valid Despite Silence on Benefits Continuation

Cherrine Chow Posted in Employment Contracts, Termination of Employment

A recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal (ONCA) has provided clarity in the debate over the validity of termination clauses in employment contracts that are silent on continuation of benefits through the statutory notice period. In Oudin v. Centre Francophone de Toronto, 2016 ONCA 514, the ONCA enforced a termination clause that set out the notice period in case of dismissal but did not mention benefits continuation. The Oudin decision contrasts with a series of recent lower court decisions that struck down termination clauses for failing to explicitly reference benefits continuation through the notice period. Continue Reading

Brexit: How might employment law be affected by the UK’s decision to exit the EU?

George Avraam Posted in Legislative & Regulatory Changes
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This morning’s announcement that the British public have voted in favour of a so-called “Brexit”, has the potential to be one of the most significant events in recent British history. The precise implications of Brexit will depend upon exactly how the UK’s future relationship with the EU will be structured. We have put together an updated briefing to help businesses with operations in the UK understand how employment law might be affected by the Brexit, identifying the various types of relationship with the EU which the UK may adopt in place of full membership. A copy of the briefing can be found <HERE>.