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Susan MacMillan is a Professional Support 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.

Many employers rely on the discretionary nature of their bonus plans to deny bonuses to employees they’ve dismissed. However, in last month’s decision in Singer v Nordstrong Equipment Limited, 2017 ONSC 5906, the Court held that stipulating that a bonus is discretionary in the policy doesn’t necessarily give the employer complete freedom to withhold the bonus. Rather, discretionary bonuses must be awarded through a “fair, identifiable process.” Continue Reading Is a Discretionary Bonus Really Discretionary?

We are pleased to report that the Ontario Court of Appeal has reaffirmed the principle that a purchaser of the assets of a business is free to offer employment on new terms to employees of the vendor and can rely on the resulting written employment agreement as binding (Krishnamoorthy v. Olympus Canada Inc., 2017 ONCA 873). Continue Reading Court of Appeal Rules Termination Clause Valid on Sale of Business

Last week, Employment and Social Development Canada confirmed that new Employment Insurance (“EI”) parental, maternity and caregiving benefits will come into force on December 3, 2017. The new EI benefits were proposed in Federal Budget 2017 (see our previous blog post here) to support employees who need time off work due to life events. The key changes are outlined below. Continue Reading December 3 Brings New EI Parental, Maternity & Caregiving Benefits

In 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that, before employees in safety sensitive positions can be subjected to random drug and alcohol testing, it must be established that there is a general problem of substance abuse in the workplace (see our article summarizing that decision here)But what evidence is relevant to this inquiry? Should the employer consider its entire industry, its particular worksites, or just the employees in a particular bargaining unit? Continue Reading Alberta Court of Appeal Weighs in on Evidence Supporting Random Testing

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently left intact a lower court decision that supports employers in seeking an independent medical examination (“IME”) in certain circumstances. In Bottiglia v. Ottawa Catholic School Board, 2017 ONSC 2517, the Ontario Divisional Court held that an employee’s duty to accommodate may permit, or even require, the employer to ask for a second medical opinion where the employer has a reasonable and bona fide reason to question the adequacy and reliability of the information provided by its employee’s medical expert. Continue Reading Value of IME in Accommodation Process Underscored by Ontario Courts

Social media has never been more popular and employers are facing a growing number of risks as a result. In our recent article, we provide guidance on dealing with social media as it impacts the workplace. In addition to outlining the prevailing risks, we suggest proactive steps to avoid issues before they occur. This article was published in the August 7th edition of the Canadian HR Reporter – access the article here.

For highlights from our recent #SocialMediaAtWork seminar – see here.

The Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) recently ruled that a unilateral contract renewal clause was valid, despite its potential to bind one party perpetually: Uniprix inc. v. Gestion Gosselin et Bérubé inc. The clause afforded sole discretion to the respondents to renew or terminate their contract with Uniprix. The wording of the clause, the nature of the contract and the relationship between the parties were determinative in the majority’s ruling, which upheld the decisions of the Court of Appeal and the Superior Court of Quebec. The SCC’s decision and our key takeaways are outlined below. Continue Reading SCC Decision Reminds Employers to Draft Termination Clauses with Care

In a recent decision, Stewart v. Elk Valley Coal Corp, the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) held that the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal (“Tribunal”) reasonably concluded that a worker who tested positive for drugs following a workplace accident was terminated because he breached the employer’s drug policy and not for discriminatory reasons. This decision is a welcome result for employers faced with safety risks due to substance use in their workplace. Continue Reading Proactive Anti-Drug Policy Not Discriminatory: Supreme Court of Canada

We recently wrote about new requirements for employers to implement comprehensive policies, programs, and investigative procedures to address workplace harassment under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”) ‒ see our blog post here. Failing to comply with the OHSA can result in a substantial fine. Employees now also have a green light to bring a civil action in relation to workplace harassment as a result of a recent decision by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Continue Reading Employees Now Able to Sue for Workplace Harassment

On June 19, 2017, five years after “gender identity” and “gender expression” were added as protected grounds of discrimination in Ontario’s Human Rights Code, the Federal government has added “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the Canadian Human Rights Act. Continue Reading Federal Government Adds “Gender Identity” And “Gender Expression” to Canadian Human Rights Act