On June 26, 2020, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in the highly publicized case of Heller v Uber Technologies Inc. The case arises from a Toronto-based UberEATS driver’s effort to bring a $400-million class action against Uber, on behalf of Uber and UberEATS drivers in Ontario. Mr. Heller alleged that Uber violated the Employment Standards Act, 2000 by treating Uber and UberEATS drivers as independent contractors and failing to provide them with employment-related entitlements like minimum wage, vacation, and overtime pay.

The issue before the Court was the validity of an arbitration clause in a standard form service agreement. The agreement was governed by the law of the Netherlands and required drivers to litigate their disputes with Uber in the Netherlands. Uber required all of its prospective drivers to enter into this agreement by having them accept the terms through their app. The Court ruled in favor of the drivers, finding that the arbitration clause was unconscionable because its terms effectively made it effectively impossible for the drivers to arbitrate their claims.

As a result of the decision, the class action can proceed to a certification motion.

Key Takeaways

Employers with arbitration clauses in their employment contracts or independent contractor agreements must revisit their agreements to determine whether they continue to be valid in Canada. Based on the Court’s decision, employers should not have arbitration clauses that require employees to pay substantial upfront fees to initiate the process. Employers should also consider whether they should pay the administration fees required for private arbitration, subject to the company’s right to a refund of those fees if it is successful in arbitration. If employers choose to keep arbitration clauses, they should ensure that in-person hearings remain local.


Continue Reading Supreme Court of Canada Invalidates Uber Arbitration Clause in $400-Million Class Action

There is a presumption that an employee is entitled to common law reasonable notice upon termination of employment without cause. Employers may rebut this presumption through an enforceable termination clause that, at the very least, provides Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) minimums, and displaces an employee’s right to common law reasonable notice.

In the past year, the Ontario Court of Appeal made it clear that it will find as unenforceable a termination clause where even the slightest imprecision could result in an unlawful contract. This trend started in Andros v. Colliers Macaulay Nicolls Inc., where the Court narrowly interpreted a failsafe clause as applying only to the first part of a termination clause but not the second. In Rossman v. Canadian Solar Inc., the same Court concluded that savings provisions, such as a failsafe provision, cannot save employers who attempt to contract out of the minimum standards prescribed by employment standards legislation. And most recently, in Waksdale v. Swegon North America Inc., the Court struck down a valid “without cause” termination sub-clause because the “for cause” termination sub-clause was unenforceable. In short, the Court concluded that where one of the sub-clauses is unenforceable, the entire termination clause must fall and it will not be saved by a severability clause.


Continue Reading Another Termination Clause Bites the Dust

If you are an Ontario employer who has implemented, or is considering implementing, temporary layoffs, wage reductions, or hours of work reductions, the Ontario Government’s recent changes will matter to you.

On May 29, 2020, the Ontario Government filed a new regulation changing the rules regarding employee eligibility for infectious disease emergency leave, temporary layoffs and constructive dismissals under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”), with retroactive effect.

Below is a summary of the most important aspects of this new regulation and why the changes will matter to your workplace and employees.

How Long Do These Changes Last?

The regulation applies retroactively, dealing primarily with the time period beginning March 1, 2020 and ending six weeks after the declared emergency ends. The Government has called this the “COVID-19 Period”. The Government recently extended the current declared emergency until June 30, meaning the regulation will be operative until at least August 11, 2020. A further extension to the declared emergency is possible, and this would automatically extend the life of the new regulation.


Continue Reading Ontario Files New ESA Regulation Affecting COVID-19-Related Leaves, Temporary Layoffs & Constructive Dismissals

Earlier this week, the Ontario government announced its intention to introduce legislation to amend the Employment Standards Act2000 (“ESA”), to provide job-protected leave to all employees impacted by COVID-19.
Continue Reading Ontario Passes Bill 186 Introducing New Job-Protected Leaves Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

To ring in the New Year, we highlight the ten most significant developments in Canadian labour and employment law in 2019.
Continue Reading Top 10 Canadian Labour & Employment Law Developments of 2019

Changes to the Canada Labour Code (“CLC” or “Code”) are effective on September 1, 2019, or on a date to be named. To ensure compliance, federally regulated employers should review their policies and practices.

This is part two of a two-part series summarizing the changes.  Part one focused on federal employment standards related to vacation, holiday and leave entitlements.  This part summarizes the remaining changes.
Continue Reading Now Effective: Changes to the Canada Labour Code (Part Two)

Changes to the Canada Labour Code (“CLC” or “Code”) are effective on September 1, 2019.  To ensure compliance, federally regulated employers should review their policies and procedures.

This is part one of a two part series summarizing changes to the Code.  This part focuses on federal employment standards related to vacation, holiday and leave entitlements.  The remaining changes will be summarized in part two.
Continue Reading Now Effective: Changes to the Canada Labour Code (Part One)

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

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 Defining “Cause” in a Termination Provision: Mind Your Language!

Overtime class actions are in the headlines again. On February 22, 2019, a class action claim seeking damages of over $100 million was filed against Flight Centre, an Australia-based travel services provider with stores in Canada and internationally. The claim alleges that Flight Centre systematically failed to pay overtime to its retail sales employees, referred to as “travel consultants”, requiring them to consistently work more than their scheduled hours, and implemented policies that fail to comply with the overtime entitlements under employment standards legislation.
Continue Reading Back in Class: Overtime Pay Class Action Brought Against Global Travel Retailer