Photo of Susan MacMillan

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.

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

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

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

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

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

This is part two in our series on recent Ontario Superior Court decisions that employers should be aware of before finalizing future employment agreements. See here for our first part, on the recent trend of lengthy notice period awards for long service employees of advanced age.

As most employers know, unenforceable termination clauses often give rise to costly wrongful dismissal claims. Yet the case law in this area is constantly evolving, and it is increasingly challenging to stay abreast of what a court will consider to be enforceable.
Continue Reading

The #MeToo and Times Up movements have led to significant cultural shifts and a collective call to action to end sexual harassment and related forms of exploitation. Since many of the high profile allegations involved abuse of power and quid pro quo demands in the context of employment relationships, the impact on employers has been profound.
Continue Reading

To mark International Women’s Day, we’re pleased to share an article from our US colleagues on recent efforts to close the gender pay gap, including salary history bans in the US and global efforts toward transparency reporting. The article, authored by Todd BoyerCaroline Burnett and Elizabeth Ebersole, can be accessed here.

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

Although brevity is almost always better than wordiness, it would have been better if the legislature had used a few more words in the severance pay provisions of Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000. Under the ESA, employers with a payroll of at least $2.5 million are required to provide statutory severance pay when dismissing an employee with 5 or more years of service. Unfortunately the provision is silent as to whether payroll within Ontario or, rather, global payroll is determinative. It would have been helpful if the drafters had indicated where, exactly, to draw the line.

The pendulum has swung back and forth on this issue. Most recently, the Ontario Labour Relations Board (“OLRB”) held that Ontario-only payroll is determinative, diverging from the direction previously taken by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. We outline the key cases to date below.
Continue Reading