Occupational Health & Safety

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

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) refused the union’s leave application in Suncor Energy Inc v Unifor Local 707A, 2017 ABCA 313 (Suncor ) thereby leaving the Alberta Court of Appeal’s (ABCA) ruling intact. The ABCA had held that evidence of substance-related safety risks across an employer’s workforce (including both union and non-union workers) may be taken into account when assessing the permissibility of random testing of unionized workers.

Suncor  is a favourable result for employers because it is in step with taking a holistic approach to workplace safety. But it is by no means a green light for drug and alcohol testing in the workplace. With the legalization of recreational use of cannabis fast approaching, we outline the current state of the law and key best practices for workplace impairment testing. Continue Reading Legalization Draws Near, Where are We Now on Employee Testing?

Recreational cannabis is very much in the spotlight as the date for legalization approaches. Yet issues related to employee use of medical cannabis are still front and centre for many employers, as demonstrated by a pair of recent arbitration decisions: Re IBEW, Local 1620 and Lower Churchill Transmission Construction Employers Assn. Inc. (Uprichard) (2017), 281 LAC (4th) 246 (“Lower Churchill 1”) and Re Lower Churchill Transmission Construction Employers Assn. Inc. and IBEW, Local 1620 (Tizzard) 2018 Carswell Nfld 198 (“Lower Churchill 2”). Continue Reading Inability to Monitor Residual Impairment From Medical Cannabis May Constitute Undue Hardship

This is the final article in our three-part series on recent changes to Alberta’s labour and employment legislation. Here we outline changes to Alberta’s occupational health and safety (“OHS”) and workers’ compensation legislation resulting from Bill 30: An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans. Continue Reading Alberta Strengthens Workplace Safety Legislation

To ring in the New Year, we highlight the ten most significant developments in Canadian labour and employment law in 2017: Continue Reading Top 10 Canadian Labour & Employment Law Developments of 2017

The date set for the legalization of marijuana in Canada is now just over 7 months away. With legalization looming and the holiday season upon us, it is now more important than ever for employers to take proactive steps to respond to the changing legal and social landscape. Continue Reading Dazed & Confused: Navigating Marijuana in the Workplace

Ontario’s Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (“Bill 148”) passed its third reading on November 22, 2017, confirming that many significant changes to Ontario’s labour and employment legislation are imminent.

Most of these changes were summarized in our last Bill 148 article (see here).  However, the following significant changes were made to Bill 148 since our last post:

  • Family Medical Leave will now be extended to 28 weeks, and will apply to all critically ill family members, not just children.
  • The first five days of Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave will now be paid.
  • Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, an employer shall not require a worker to wear footwear with an elevated heel unless it is required for the worker to perform his or her work safely (subject to certain exceptions).

Continue Reading Ontario Legislature Passes Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017

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

In the recent decision of Humber River Regional Hospital and Ontario Nurses Association (“ONA”) (Cherubino Grievance), an Ontario arbitrator dismissed the union’s grievance alleging harassment by a supervisor and found that neither management duties nor the employer’s internal investigation process should be held to a standard of perfection. Continue Reading Management Duties and Complaint Investigations: Perfection Not Required

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