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Jennifer Bernardo has a broad litigation and advocacy practice, encompassing all areas of labour and employment law in Canada’s common law jurisdictions, with a particular focus on employment standards, labour relations, human rights claims and wrongful dismissal actions. Ms. Bernardo also advises on the labour and employment implications of corporate transactions, as well as issues relating to international labour and human rights standards, corporate compliance and risk management, and internal investigations.

A recent decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal adds further confusion to the issue of the enforceability of termination clauses. In Holm v AGAT Laboratories Ltd, 2018 ABCA 23 (“Holm“), the Alberta Court of Appeal (“Court”) held that explicit language must be included in a termination clause to oust an employee’s common law rights. Continue Reading Alberta and Ontario Courts Diverge on Termination Clauses

The Ontario Court of Appeal just released another decision on the interpretation and enforceability of termination clauses – the latest chapter in a less-than-clear set of guidelines. Generally speaking, a properly drafted termination clause can be used to limit an employee’s entitlements on dismissal. Continue Reading Ontario Court of Appeal Weighs in (Again) on Termination Clauses

As stories of workplace harassment and discrimination permeate the news and social media accounts, the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) has expanded the scope of provincial human rights legislation to impose liability on co-workers – even when those co-workers have different employers. Continue Reading Supreme Court of Canada Expands Workplace Discrimination Protection to Cover Non-Employees

In its recent decision in North v. Metaswitch Networks Corporation, the Ontario Court of Appeal concluded that a severability clause could not be used to “rewrite” or “read down” a termination provision to make it comply with the Employment Standards Act (the “ESA”). Instead, the Court of Appeal held, where any part of a termination clause is void, the entire provision must be struck and the severability clause becomes inoperative. This case is a reminder to employers that there are no shortcuts when it comes to drafting your employment agreements—termination provisions must be carefully drafted to limit termination liability without breaching local employment standards. Continue Reading Severability Clause Cannot Save Illegal Termination Provision, Court of Appeal Rules

In the recent decision of Humber River Regional Hospital and Ontario Nurses Association (“ONA”) (Cherubino Grievance), an Ontario arbitrator dismissed the union’s grievance alleging harassment by a supervisor and found that neither management duties nor the employer’s internal investigation process should be held to a standard of perfection. Continue Reading Management Duties and Complaint Investigations: Perfection Not Required

A lawsuit brought by several Guatemalans for alleged damages suffered during a 2013 protest at the Escobal silver mine in San Rafael Las Flores has cleared a final hurdle and will now proceed to trial in British Columbia. Continue Reading BC Trial on Alleged Human Rights Violations by Canadian Mining Company in Guatemala Can Proceed

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. Continue Reading First in Class: Independent Contractor Class Action Certified in Canada

Starting June 10, 2016, Ontario employees have increased protection regarding the tips and gratuities left by customers. As we discussed in a previous post, Bill 12 amends the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) to prohibit employers from withholding, making deductions from, or collecting tips or other gratuities from employees, unless authorized to do so under the ESA.

Continue Reading Keep the Change! New “Tips” Legislation Coming Into Force

In the recent decision of Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board v. Fair, 2016 ONCA 421, the Ontario Court of Appeal (“ONCA”) upheld the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario’s 2013 decision to reinstate an employee, more than 10 years after her employment was terminated. By the time of the ONCA’s decision, almost 15 years had passed since the original termination.

The ONCA’s decision may encourage other decision-makers to order reinstatement as a remedy in discrimination cases. The decision also highlights the importance of considering all possible positions, vacant or not, in order to meet the duty to accommodate employees with disabilities.

Continue Reading More Reinstatements on the Horizon in Discrimination Cases?

A recent decision of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (the “HRTO”) has further defined the scope of the test for “family status” discrimination. Employees may not be required to take measures to find alternative arrangements for infrequent, sporadic or unexpected family needs, before seeking protection under the Human Rights Code (the “Code”). Continue Reading Family Status Discrimination: HRTO Narrows “Self-Accommodation” Requirement