Workplace Mental Health

It has been another very busy year in the world of Employment Law with many significant changes to the workplace/workforce both legally and culturally.

Join SpringLaw’s Lisa Stam and Evaleen Hellinga for our December webinar as they walk you through a review of the year so that your business and HR team/person are well-prepared for 2023!

Date: Wednesday, December 14, 2022
Time: 10:30-11:00 am EST
Register today: Click here!
Continue Reading Free webinar: Rewind & Review – 2022 Employment Law Recap

As we start to wrap up 2022, workplace law continues to move at an unpredictable, quick and sometimes wacky pace.

Both managers and employees alike are burnt out and struggling to find their feet in the new post-pandemic norm. Employers and managers are having to adjust to a different style of management as employees are demanding new standards in the workplace. The ability to work remotely, the right to disconnect completely (hello Bill 27!) and having a clear line in the sand about what their job is (#quietquitting) are becoming the rules and not the expectations.
Continue Reading 2022 HR Law Trends

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

Human rights legislation across Canada protects employees from discrimination on the basis of disability and requires employers to accommodate employees with disabilities to the point of undue hardship. Long-term leaves of absence often leave employers wondering how to fulfil their duty to accommodate and at what point are they able to terminate an employee after an extended absence.

How Does an Employer Accommodate an Employee Who Can’t Work Due to Disability? 

When an employee requests a leave from work due to illness or injury with supporting documentation, employers generally start by providing the requested leave. Permitting the leave constitutes an accommodation. Generally, the initial leave is for a period of a few weeks or months depending on the medical professional’s recommendation. Following this initial accommodation, human rights adjudicators require an employer to actively engage with the employee to explore other potential accommodations. To do so, an employer should maintain reasonable contact with the employee to monitor their intention and ability to return to work and seek up-to-date information about the nature of the employee’s medical condition, restrictions and limitations, prognosis for recovery, and ability to perform alternative work. This process is ongoing and may last for several years. Employees must have the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the accommodation process. 
Continue Reading Accommodating Long-Term Absences: Considerations for Employers

Disconnecting from work - the why and how for employers and employeesIn our previous blog, we discussed how employers who staff 25 or more employees must implement a written policy addressing disconnecting from work. But, what does this mean for both the employer and the employee and what are the benefits we hope to see? 

It’s no secret the pandemic has entirely changed the way we work. Our homes have become our offices which has caused a huge disruption in our work-life balance. But, the work-from-home mandate is not the only culprit for the changed relationships with our jobs. It started long before that with access to technology everywhere we go. Our work is easily accessible through our phones, tablets, laptops, and maybe even our smartwatch. We have entirely normalized being reachable and accessible at all hours of the day. With pending deadlines and timelines, we’ve seemed to adopt an “always on” approach to work where we somehow feel guilty about shutting down. 
Continue Reading Get That Spring Back in Your Step by Disconnecting

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

Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Options for Legal Redress
Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

Introduction – Part II

During Part I of this blog, we outlined three initial legal options for survivors of sexual assault and/or harassment in the workplace context. These included filing a workplace complaint, filing a grievance if you are in a unionized setting, or submitting an application to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). Here, we continue to outline the remaining three options for legal redress in this context. 

Asserting a Constructive Dismissal

Per Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, your employer is responsible for ensuring a safe, harassment-free work environment. If you resign from your employment you typically will not be entitled to any compensation from your employer. If you are terminated, you will typically be entitled to notice of termination – colloquially known as a “severance package”. However, the law has carved out an exception in circumstances where the employer’s conduct has been so bad that you essentially have no choice but to quit. This is called a “constructive dismissal.’” Depending on the facts of each case, asserting a successful constructive dismissal claim could result in a damages (compensation) award comparable to what you would have been entitled to had you been terminated. If your constructive dismissal arose out of the context of being sexually harassed or assaulted at work, you may also be entitled to additional forms of compensation including human rights or general damages. 
Continue Reading Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Options for Legal Redress – Part 2

Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Options for Legal Redress
Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

Introduction – Part I

In the wake of the #MeToo era, a burgeoning consciousness has grown around the existence of and need to address sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace. Individuals of all genders and orientations have found the courage to come forward, and legislation in Ontario has made it mandatory for employers to sufficiently investigate these allegations in a timely and comprehensive manner. Trauma-informed Workplace Investigations inherently require a sound understanding of power dynamics and nuanced forms of sexual harassment. New hybrid work models pose unique obstacles for enforcing cyber-bullying and anti-discrimination/harassment policies, and have brought to the forefront the importance of building a workforce predicated on respect, plurality, accountability, legal compliance, and employee well-being. As part of this, employees who experience sexual assault and/or harassment in the workplace may have different legal options at their disposal. 

In Part 1, we begin here with a  review of three possible options. 
Continue Reading Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Options for Legal Redress – Part I

Workplace Law Trends for 2022
Photo by BRUNO EMMANUELLE on Unsplash

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