Unions & Labour Relations

Ontario employers face a number of new challenges in 2018 as a result of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (“Bill 148”). To help employers navigate the many changes under Bill 148, we have outlined the key changes that employers need to be aware of. We have also indicated planning actions to consider in view of these changes.
Continue Reading Bill 148: Key Changes & What to Do About Them

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

We recently wrote about the Ontario government’s proposed changes to the province’s employment standards and labour relations legislation – see our blog posts here and here. On June 1, 2017, the Minister of Labour, the Honourable Kevin Flynn, introduced legislation to affect these changes.
Continue Reading Early Approval Across Party Lines for ESA & LRA Amending Legislation

Further to our recent blog post about the Ontario government’s reform of the employment standards legislation through The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, employers can also expect significant changes to the legislation governing unionized workplaces. The key changes proposed in respect of Ontario’s Labour Relations Act (“LRA”) concern union certification, bargaining unit structure, first contracts, just cause protection, return-to-work rights and procedures, successor rights, and fines for individuals and organizations, which are summarized below.
Continue Reading Ontario Set to Make Significant Changes to Labour Relations Act

Does the workplace extend into cyberspace?  In a precedent setting decision with potentially far-reaching implications, a labour arbitrator has found an employer liable for failing to protect its workers from harassment and discrimination in customer posts on the employer’s Twitter account (Toronto Transit Commission and ATU, Local 113, 2016 CarswellOnt 10550).  Employers using social media to communicate with clients, customers or the general public may need to rethink how to they respond to uncivil, abusive or threatening online posts targeting their workers.
Continue Reading Are Employers Responsible for Protecting Their Employees on Social Media? “Yes” According to a Recent Decision

On December 10, 2015, Bill 109, the Employment and Labour Statute Law Amendment Act, 2015 (the “Act“) received Royal Assent. The Act introduces new labour relations provisions for two large groups of employees in Ontario: firefighters and public sector employees. Most significantly, the Act also amends the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (“WSIA“), increasing employer liability (retroactively, in some cases) regarding workers’ compensation claims and survivor death benefits.
Continue Reading Retroactive Liability and Other Amendments to Labour and Employment Legislation in Ontario

Franchisors who place strict controls on their franchisees may also have to answer for their franchisee’s human rights practices.

Product and service consistency is the backbone of coffee giant Tim Hortons’ successful business model. Tim Hortons, like many other successful franchisors, imposes a strict regime on its stores in order to ensure that all Canadians can get the same cup of coffee, in the same cup, regardless of where they order it. Control manifests itself through an extensive franchise agreement, detailed operations rules and regular audits of individual stores.


Continue Reading Is the price of a consistent cup of coffee shared human rights liability?

Our U.S. colleagues recently wrote a great piece about the long-awaited and much-debated decision of the National Labour Relations Board (the “NLRB”) in Browning-Ferris Industries of California, 362 NLRB No. 186,  (“Browning-Ferris”) which has dramatically changed the concept of “joint employment” south of the border.  U.S. employers who – on the basis of 30 years of NLRB precedent – have operated on the basis that workers supplied by temporary staffing agencies were not their employees should take heed.  The rules have changed and employers will need to adapt.  Readers who want a purely U.S. analysis of this landmark case can link to it here.
Continue Reading Meet the New Boss…. Same as the Old Boss? Temporary Workers and Joint Employment in the U.S. and Canada

On May 26, 2015, the Ontario Labour Relations Board (“OLRB”) released a decision that declared the local strikes by teachers in the Durham, Sudbury (Rainbow), and Peel public school boards to be unlawful. At the time the OLRB hearings were held, there were approximately 74,000 secondary students “out of class” as a result of the strikes.
Continue Reading The Vacation is Over: The Ontario Labour Relations Board Declares Secondary School Strikes Unlawful and Sends 74,000 Students Back to Class

In our last post, we gave an overview of the union certification process, talked about why employees might choose to join unions and some signs of union organizing that employers should watch for. In this post, we will discuss what employers can and cannot do during an organizing campaign.
Continue Reading Not on My Watch – What Employers Can Do When Unions Come Knocking (Part 2)