Background

In a recent decision, EN v Gallagher’s Bar and Lounge, 2021 HRTO 240 (CanLII), the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (the “HRTO”) found that an employer discriminated against three of his employees based on their gender identities, gender expressions, and sex by subjecting them to trans-and homophobic language, intentional outing, and by misgendering them through his refusal to use their preferred pronouns. 

The three Applicants, referred to as EN, JR, and FH, were kitchen employees at a restaurant managed by its owner, Jamie Gallagher; each identified as either gender queer or non-binary, using the chosen pronouns ”they/them.” They openly requested to be addressed with these pronouns. 
Continue Reading HRTO: Employer Liability for Proper Pronoun Use

Arbitration Decisions on Mandatory Vaccination Policies
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This month has seen arbitral treatment of two mandatory vaccination policies in the context of unionized workplaces. In a grievance brought by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Canada, Local 333 against employer Paragon Protection Ltd., the arbitrator found that the employer’s vaccination policy was reasonable. In a grievance brought by the Power Workers’ Union (the “PWU”) against employer Electrical Safety Authority, the arbitrator found that it was not.

Paragon Protection’s Vaccination Policy

Paragon Protection Ltd. provides security services and employs 4,400 unionized security guards to hundreds of client sites across Ontario. Many of these client sites had vaccination requirements. Paragon gave its employees approximately two months notice that they would be requiring them to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Employees would report their vaccination status by way of a declaration. The policy allowed exemptions for human rights reasons on the basis of creed/religion and health. 
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Bill 27 Working for Workers Act 2021 and Disconnecting from Work Policies
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As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ontario’s labour market has experienced significant disruptions and a permanently shifted work landscape. Employers are grappling with redefined work locations, rapidly changing public health standards, and the need for economic revitalization. As part of the province’s recovery scheme, Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour Training and Skills Development, established the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee (OWRAC). The Committee’s mandate is to “provide recommendations to position Ontario as the best place in North America to recruit, retain and reward workers.” Its work centers around three pillars: economic recovery, strengthening Ontario’s competitive position, and supporting workers. Integral to the Committee’s work were community stakeholder consultations involving workers, employers, and unions, which invited submissions by July 31, 2021. 
Continue Reading Bill 27 – Working for Workers Act, 2021 and Disconnecting from Work Policies

trauma-informed workplace investigationsJoin us for Part 2 of this webinar series. Dealing with Harassment, Bullying and Sexual Violence in the Workplace, as we do a deep dive into Trauma-Informed Workplace Investigations (TII).  SpringLaw’s Flo Vineberg and Emily Siu will discuss the role of a Trauma-Informed Workplace Investigator and best practices for employers.

Date: Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Time: 10:30-11:00 am EST
Register: Click here!

Continue Reading Free webinar: Trauma-Informed Workplace Investigations

A Proposed Ban on Non-Competes
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On October 25, Ontario Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021 (“the Bill”) passed first reading. This Bill proposes amendments to our key Ontario employment statutes, including the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. In today’s post, we will review highlights regarding the proposed ban on non-competes and talk about how Ontario businesses can prepare. 

A Ban On Non-Competes

One much-discussed element of the Bill is the proposed ban on non-competition agreements in employment contracts. 

A non-competition agreement restricts – or tries to – an employee’s ability, for a period of time, to work for a competitor after leaving the employer. The restriction is usually somewhere between three months to two years. 
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Recent Changes to the Federal Government’s Covid-19 Benefits Schemes
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As of Saturday, October 23, 2021, a suite of federal benefits formerly slated for both individuals and small businesses was set to expire following several extension periods. In partial response, the federal government has earmarked $7.4 billion for new programs intended to maintain some level of support for businesses and individuals throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

What Is Set To Expire?

On October 23, 2021, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) both expired after their initial implementation in 2020. The Budget Implementation Act would allow the government to extend these programs to November 30, 2021, however, anything beyond this time frame would require the introduction of new legislation. Under the CERS, businesses have a monthly cap of $75,000 on eligible expenses that can be claimed per business location, and $300,000 in total for all locations. In our discussion below, there is potential for an increase in this monthly cap. 
Continue Reading Recent Changes to the Federal Government’s Covid-19 Benefits Schemes

Free webinar: Dealing with Harassment, Bullying, and Sexual Violence in the WorkplaceOctober is National Bullying Prevention Month. Harassment, bullying, and sexual violence in the workplace continue to persist. Last month, Western University dealt with several sexual assault allegations. What does this mean for employers?

Join SpringLaw’s Flo Vineberg and Emily Siu as they discuss sexual assault, harassment, and violence in the workplace, as well trauma-informed workplace investigations.

Date: Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Time: 10:30-11:00 am EST
Register: Click here!

Continue Reading Free webinar: Dealing with Harassment, Bullying, and Sexual Violence in the Workplace

Bill 132 - Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Date
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In response to the provincial government’s March 2015 report entitled  “It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment,” the Ontario legislature passed Bill 132 – Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan in March 2016, which entered into force in September of that year. This Bill amended Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), establishing specific requirements with respect to sexualized harassment and violence prevention in Ontario’s workplaces. In turn, employers have since had additional responsibilities to understand, address and eliminate workplace sexual harassment and violence beyond previous measures. This requires sound and updated workplace policies, sufficient workplace training, and additional competencies to ensure compliance with the OHSA via, amongst other things, informed and diligent workplace investigations.
Continue Reading Understanding your employer obligations under Bill 132 – Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan

Minimum Wage Increase in Ontario
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As of October 1, 2021, minimum wage rates in Ontario increased. The increases are tied to the 2020 Ontario Consumer Price Index under the Making Ontario Open for Business Act. The general minimum wage for provincially regulated employees has increased by 10 cents – from $14.25 per hour to $14.35 per hour. The minimum wage rates for students, liquor servers, hunting and fishing guides, homeworkers, and wilderness guides have also increased. The Ministry of Labour has published a handy chart with a list of the minimum wage rates.

What about alternative pay arrangements (non-hourly, non-salaried, room and board)?

Employers should note that these rate increases also apply to employees who earn commission – these employees’ pay must amount to at least the minimum wage for each hour the employee has worked. 
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