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Jesse Freeman 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 arbitration, human rights, wrongful dismissals and occupational health and safety. Ms. Freeman also advises employers on a wide range of labour and employment law matters, providing practical legal and business advice to both domestic and international private and public sector clients.

This is the first of our two-part series on recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decisions that employers need to be aware of before finalizing their next employment agreement. The decisions highlight the risk of failing to include an enforceable termination provision in the employment agreement. Absent such a provision, an employee dismissed without cause will be entitled to “reasonable notice” of termination at common law.

In this first part, we examine two recent decisions of the Court that suggest that the Court now favours longer notice periods for long service employees of advanced age: Dawe v Equitable Life Insurance Company, 2018 ONSC 3130 (Dawe) and Saikaly v Akman Construction Ltd., 2019 ONSC 799 (Saikaly). Until recently, 24 months was generally considered as the upper limit of notice entitlement that courts would award absent exceptional circumstances.
Continue Reading Dismissing a Long Service Employee of Advanced Age May Prove to be More Costly

One of the clearest messages from the #MeToo movement has been that sexual harassers need to be held accountable for their actions. This message has resonated with employers and most now appreciate that they need to promptly investigate and appropriately address misconduct once they become aware of it. But employer obligations extend beyond remedial action and include, in Ontario and other jurisdictions, implementing preventative policies and educating employees on the policies.

However, a new US research report indicates that policies aren’t enough and employers need to pay attention to certain warning signs in the workplace to effectively stem sexual harassment. The report’s authors contend that organizational climate is the greatest determinant of sexual harassment occurring in a workplace. In fact, corporate culture can either encourage or discourage an employee to harass, according to the authors.
Continue Reading Is Your Workplace Prone to Sexual Harassment? 5 Warning Signs to Watch For

On August 2, 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada refused the plaintiff’s leave application in Krishnamoorthy v Olympus Canada Inc, 2017 ONCA 873. As such, the Ontario Court of Appeal’s ruling still stands. The ONCA held that a purchaser of assets of a business is free to offer employment on new terms to employees

As employers well know by now, in 2005 the Ontario Government started on a 20-year legislative journey, passing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (“AODA”), with the objective of achieving accessibility for all Ontarians by 2025. The legislation covers five broad areas, establishing accessibility standards related to (1) information and communications; (2) employment; (3) public spaces; (4) customer service; and (5) transportation.

This time last year we reported on the accessibility standards and deadlines that both small and large organizations would be required to meet in 2015. That post can be found here. Following the AODA phased implementation plan, the next set of deadlines are fast approaching. Employers must once again ensure they are prepared to meet the obligations set out in the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, and the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulations. The requirements to meet will vary depending on the size of your organization.

The following accessibility requirements take effect January 1, 2016:

Continue Reading A New Year, a New Round of Accessibility Requirements for Employers

With the holiday season in full swing, many employers are in the process of planning their office holiday parties.  Holding a social event is a great way to celebrate the holiday season and to thank employees for their hard work. Unfortunately, employers face the risk of liability should an employee be permitted to drink too much and/or engage in inappropriate behavior at a work-related function. There is the added risk of safety-related liability should that intoxicated employee drive home and injure themselves or an innocent third party. Luckily, there are simple and effective ways to reduce these risks.

While it is someone else’s job to make sure there is enough eggnog and to pick the band, it is our job to remind you to take proactive steps when planning your holiday celebration. Here are some tips for hosting a safe and successful office holiday party, while reducing the risk of a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

Continue Reading Holiday Cheer Without Legal Fear – Tips to Keep Your Holiday Office Party Lawsuit Free

Keenan v Canac Kitchens, 2015 ONSC 1055 (“Canac Kitchens“) serves as an important reminder that simply using the term “independent contractor” in an agreement is not enough to protect an employer from its obligation to provide, among other things, reasonable notice upon termination.  The nature of a working relationship is generally defined by the actual nature of the relationship, including how the parties conduct themselves, not by the terminology used by the parties to describe their relationship.
Continue Reading If it Walks Like a Duck and Talks Like a Duck…It’s a Dependent Contractor and is Entitled to 26 Months Notice?