An Unprecedented Legislative Move

This week, Bill 28 was repealed and the collective bargaining model in Ontario stands. Why was it such a big legal deal?  

The recent strike by education workers in Ontario made headlines for reasons beyond the usual disruption to parents’ and kids’ everyday lives. On October 30, 2022, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in Ontario gave notice to the province that the education workers it represents would strike in 5 days. 

On November 3, the province responded by introducing Bill 28, which enacted the Keeping Students in Class Act, 2022, unilaterally imposing a new collective agreement, outlawing the impending strike, and invoking the “notwithstanding clause” in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to do so. This type of legislation is unprecedented. 
Continue Reading The Education Worker Strike: A Primer on Constitutionally-Protected Labour Laws

Employers may want to reassess how they terminate their employees and the timeframe and manner through which they provide their employees with their termination-related entitlements. Pohl v Hudson’s Bay Company, 2022 ONSC 5230, a recent Ontario decision, demonstrates, amongst other things, what a court may award an employee whose dismissal was conducted by an employer in an unfair manner.  

What Happened?

A 28-year full-time Hudson’s Bay Company Sales Manager in his 50s was terminated on a without-cause basis and immediately walked out the door. He earned an annual salary of $61,254 plus pension contributions and other benefits.
Continue Reading The Importance of Being Honest and Sensitive: The $50k+ Moral and Punitive Damage Award

Gender-Inclusive LanguageRecent legislative changes acknowledge society’s growing understanding of gender diversity in all places, including the workplace. More provinces and territories may follow in adapting their employment legislation to reflect current norms. 

Employers can and should take proactive steps to create inclusive workplaces by acknowledging and promoting gender diversity and making sure to address employees by their preferred pronouns. Failing to do so could lead to potential human rights claims.

In various parts of the country, employment-related legislation has recently been amended to include gender-inclusive language. As society develops an understanding of gender diversity, our legislation is starting to keep up with the times.
Continue Reading Legislation Brings Gender-Inclusive Language

Common Employer & Termination Clause Updates: Rahman vs CannonDoes the employee’s level of contract knowledge make a contract more enforceable? Who is on the hook for termination pay if a company has subsidiary or parent companies? 

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently answered these questions in Rahman v. Cannon Design Architecture Inc. The bottom line of the decision is:

  • an employee’s level of sophistication has no bearing on whether a termination clause is enforceable
  • the language in with-cause termination provisions needs to be carefully worded and abide by requirements in the Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) 
  • subsidiary and parent companies of an employer can be considered “common employers” if there is a certain level of integration between the companies, making them jointly and severally liable to the employee. 


Continue Reading Rahman v Cannon: Common Employer & Termination Clause Updates

One of the greatest challenges an employer can face is being sued by a former (or current) employee. In this webinar, SpringLaw’s Jessyca Greenwood and Emily Siu will walk you through the litigation process, what to expect, and some steps you can take to avoid getting into this expensive and lengthy process in the first place.

Date: Wednesday, June 15th, 2022
Time: 10:30-11:00 am EST
Register today: Click here!

Continue Reading Free webinar: Going to Court – Employment Law Litigation Tips

Can Employees Record Work Meetings?
Photo by Craig Pattenaude on Unsplash

With the rise of remote working in the past couple of years, virtual work meetings, whether over video or phone call, have become a common occurence. With that comes the issue of recording work calls. In this post, we address the possible risks involved when an employee records work meetings, either surreptitiously or with consent. 

Can an employee legally record a work call?

It is technically legal in Canada for an employee to record a conversation they are a part of, and the employee does not attract criminal liability if they do so surreptitiously, as long as they were a part of the call. However, Courts across Canada have found that surreptitious recording can justify termination for cause. 
Continue Reading Can Employees Record Work Meetings?

SpringLaw Turns 5 Years Old Today!  

In law firm years, that means we are past the start-up phase and into the expansion and enhancement of client experience stage. We continue to build out our behind-the-scenes automation and tech-driven services to bring efficiency to files, so that we can focus on 1:1 communications with our clients.  

5 Years of Virtual Counsel & Efficient Client-Centred Services 

Little did we know 5 years ago how much being entirely virtual, paperless and focusing on cloud-based, online collaborative communications would come in handy during a global pandemic. Over the last 2 years, it’s been fantastic to see so many law firms, clients, adjudicative bodies and our justice system generally dig in and figure out how to communicate virtually. 
Continue Reading SpringLaw is Turning 5 & Giving Back

26-Month Notice Period Upheld by Ontario Court of Appeal
Photo by Eric Rothermel on Unsplash

In the world of workplace law we often say that, absent exceptional circumstances, the greatest notice period that any wrongfully dismissed employee could be awarded by an adjudicator is 24 months. But what are those exceptional circumstances? Years ago, we blogged about Dawe v. The Equitable Life Insurance Company of Canada, a case in which the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the trial judge’s award of 30 months of reasonable notice for a terminated employee, reducing the final notice period to 24 months. Recently, the Ontario Court of Appeal released a decision, Currie v. Nylene Canada Inc. (“Currie”), affirming the trial judge’s assessment of damages in the amount of 26 months of reasonable notice for the wrongfully dismissed employee, Ms. Currie (“Ms. Currie”). Below we will look at the factors the Court considered in rendering this judgment.
Continue Reading Ontario Court of Appeal Upholds 26-Month Notice Period

Workplace Law Trends for 2022
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Welcome to 2020 Two! It’s hard to believe we’ve been living through a pandemic for nearly 2 years. Workplaces are beyond worn out, stress leaves and harassment complaints continue to increase, parents are juggling remote learning and limited activities for kids once again, and many workplaces struggle to find people to fill the roles. 

Yes, it’s all a bit of a mess, but out of crisis emerge new ways to approach issues and novel solutions to traditional problems. Here are our predictions for workplace law trends and changes in 2022.

#1 – Push for Hybrid and Remote Working

Studies over the last year are showing a deep disconnect between senior bosses and employees about preferred workplaces. Increasingly, employees want – and now expect – at least some remote work option, whereas senior levels of management are more likely to continue to see in-person work better for productivity, mentoring and focus.
Continue Reading Workplace Law Trends for 2022

ONCA upholds employer for-cause termination for sexual harassment
Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

Overview

In Hucsko v. A.O. Smith Enterprises Limited, 2021 ONCA 728, the Ontario Court of Appeal (ONCA) overturned the lower Court’s decision that found an employee had been wrongfully dismissed in relation to sexual harassment allegations and was awarded 20 months’ notice. In its reversal, the ONCA held that the employee had failed to fulfill remedial steps required by his employer; that he did in fact sexually harass his coworker; and that his for-cause termination was justified.  

Background

A senior, 20-year employee made several comments to his younger, female coworker on several occasions, including the following:
Continue Reading ONCA upholds employer for-cause termination for sexual harassment