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.
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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”).
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In Talos v. Grand Erie District School Board  (“Grand Erie “), the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (“HRTO”) held that statutory provisions permitting employers to reduce or discontinue employees’ benefits after they reach age 65 is discriminatory and contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (“Charter “). Consequently, employers should review their benefits plans, and consider whether it may be necessary to adjust or eliminate such age-based distinctions.
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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.
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We are living in uncertain and quickly changing times.  Most recently, on January 27, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order (EO) that suspends entry into the United States for 90 days of certain aliens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.  For more information about the EO and its immigration and mobility 

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.
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In the recent decision of Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board v. Fair, 2016 ONCA 421, the Ontario Court of Appeal (“ONCA”) upheld the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario’s 2013 decision to reinstate an employee, more than 10 years after her employment was terminated. By the time of the ONCA’s decision, almost 15 years had passed since the original termination.

The ONCA’s decision may encourage other decision-makers to order reinstatement as a remedy in discrimination cases. The decision also highlights the importance of considering all possible positions, vacant or not, in order to meet the duty to accommodate employees with disabilities.


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A recent decision of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (the “HRTO”) has further defined the scope of the test for “family status” discrimination. Employees may not be required to take measures to find alternative arrangements for infrequent, sporadic or unexpected family needs, before seeking protection under the Human Rights Code (the “Code”).
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On October 27, 2015, the Ontario Government introduced legislation as part of its action plan to stop sexual violence and harassment. Bill 132, An Act to amend various statutes with respect to sexual violence, sexual harassment, domestic violence and related matters, presents changes to various statutes, aimed at making workplaces, university campuses, and communities safer, while recognizing the needs of survivors of sexual violence and harassment. Below are the key proposed amendments affecting employers.
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