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Susan MacMillan is a Knowledge Lawyer in the Employment & Compensation Group in Toronto. Susan is passionate about exploring new developments in Canadian and global employment law and their implications for employers. Prior to joining Baker McKenzie, Susan had a broad employment law practice at a full-service, national firm. She was also seconded to a Canadian chartered bank as Legal Counsel in the bank’s Employment Law Group. Susan holds an LL.M. from the University of Toronto where her thesis focused on the interaction between seniority rights and the duty to accommodate.

The spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus — the virus responsible for COVID-19 — is now anticipated to reach pandemic levels. Officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada reiterate that the risk of a mass outbreak in Canada remains low, but have encouraged and enforced precautionary measures.

Employers should continue to be vigilant in ensuring a safe and healthy workplace. In addition to our previous client alert, employers should be mindful of the following checklist:

1. Appoint one or more coordinators who will be responsible for tracking and communicating the latest developments of COVID-19. The coordinator(s) should have the authority to make or advise on emergency decisions such as office closures and meeting cancellations.

  • According to the size of the employer’s organization, a cross-functional team may be necessary with designated individuals to handle issues such as employee health and safety, medical/personal leaves and accommodations, communications, and compliance.


Continue Reading COVID-19 Checklist for Canadian Employers

In City of Toronto v. CUPE, Local 79, the Ontario Divisional Court reaffirmed that employers may provide less compensation to an employee who works reduced hours due to a disability without violating the Human Rights Code (“Code”). In this case, the employer discontinued its past practice of permitting employees working part-time hours to remain in the full-time bargaining unit. The change meant that the grievor, who worked part-time hours as an accommodation for his disabilities, suffered a reduction in his benefit entitlements. The Court held that the reduction to the grievor’s benefit entitlements was not discriminatory under the Code.
Continue Reading Less Benefits for Less Work is Not Discrimination – Reaffirmed by Divisional Court

On October 17, 2018, Canada legalized the production, distribution and sale of recreational cannabis. Several classes of cannabis became legal including fresh and dried flowers, seeds, plants and oils for recreational purposes. At the time, the federal government set a staggered date for legalizing cannabis derived products, such as edible cannabis, to allow for public consultation.
Continue Reading Eating Your Greens – Cannabis Edibles, Extracts and Topicals Become Legal

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has reminded employers that terminating a fixed term employment contract early can prove to be expensive.
Continue Reading No Termination Clause in a Fixed Term Contract – A Costly Omission!

Forty percent of Canadian workers experience bullying on a weekly basis. Moreover, 7% of adult internet users in Canada self-reported experiencing cyberbullying at some point in their life. The most common form of cyberbullying involves receiving threatening or aggressive emails or instant messages.[1]
Continue Reading Beyond the Playground: Stamping out Workplace Cyberbullying

Employers often wish to enter new or updated employment agreements with existing employees. The driving force is typically that circumstances have changed, but it can also be that the employer simply wants different or additional terms. However, the employer must give the employee valid consideration, otherwise the new or updated agreement will not be enforceable.
Continue Reading A New Contract for a Current Employee? Consider the Consideration!

The Ontario Court of Appeal has reiterated that, barring exceptional circumstances, reasonable notice for dismissal without cause will not exceed 24 months. The Court partially overturned the lower court’s decision in Dawe v The Equitable Life Insurance Company of Canada, which also ruled on the enforceability of unilateral changes to the employer’s bonus plan.
Continue Reading 24 Months Reaffirmed as the “High End” of Reasonable Notice; Bonus Plan Changes Must Be Accepted by Employee

Recent arbitration decisions confirm that conduct amounting to harassment or bullying will not be tolerated in unionized workplaces and that an appropriate investigation needs to be carried out in response to a complaint. The approach is consistent with decisions concerning harassment in non-union workplaces, increased legislative protections for workers and a changed social climate brought on by the #MeToo movement.
Continue Reading Harassment or Blue Collar Culture? A New Standard for Shop Floor Conduct

On April 3, 2019, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2019  (Bill 66) received Royal Assent. Bill 66 amends several pieces of legislation in Ontario. The government has stated that the changes are intended to “lower business costs to make Ontario more competitive” and to “harmonize regulatory requirements with other jurisdictions, end duplication and reduce barriers to investment.”
Continue Reading Hot Off the Press: Bill 66 Ushers in More Changes for Ontario Employers

As we reported in our earlier post, in Merrifield v The Attorney General, 2017 ONSC 1333, the Ontario Superior Court allowed an employee’s claim against his employer and two superiors for the “tort of harassment” and awarded significant damages against the defendants as a consequence. In its decision released today, the Ontario Court of Appeal (“ONCA”) held that there is currently no independent tort of harassment in Ontario, overturning the lower court’s decision. However, the ONCA did not rule out “the development of a properly conceived tort of harassment” that may apply in appropriate contexts.
Continue Reading The Verdict is In: Ontario Court of Appeal Finds No Tort of Harassment (Yet)