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Andres Barker now writing posts for www.greggowe.com

I am very happy to announce that Andres Barker is now writing posts for www.greggowe.com.

Andres is an in-house labour and employment lawyer with the Health Employers Association of British Columbia. Prior to that he was in private practice with Kent Employment Law.

Andres' most recent post is about the BC Court of Appeal's decision in Lau v. Royal Bank of Canada, 2017 BCCA 253 and is entitled, "BC Court of Appeal affirms medical evidence not required to prove aggravated damages".

Stay tuned for our upcoming re-launch of the website!

BC Court of Appeal affirms medical evidence not required to prove aggravated damages

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

In Lau v. Royal Bank of Canada, 2017 BCCA 253, the British Columbia Court of Appeal overturned a $30,000 aggravated damages award attached to a wrongful dismissal judgment. During the initial trial the plaintiff gave evidence of the effects the termination had on his mental well-being but presented no medical evidence to substantiate his claims of mental distress. The court found the plaintiff was not harassed, scolded or or otherwise mistreated, and his testimony did not provide a sound basis for finding he suffered injury beyond the hurt feelings and distress that accompany any termination.

This decision affirms several important points surrounding mental distress claims in wrongful dismissal actions: actual bad faith conduct is a critical element of an award of aggravated damages; mental distress claims do not need to be accompanyed by proof of a psychiatric illness; and a plaintiff's own testimony absent medical corrobation is a valid consideration for the court. 

Probation clause could not be relied on where employment offer rescinded

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia
Sector: - Media

In Buchanan v. Introjunction Ltd., 2017 BCSC 1002, the BC Supreme Court ruled that a defendant could not rely on a probation clause to justify early termination where the offer of employment was rescinded after the contract was entered into, but before the official first day of employment. The court found that the probation clause had not yet taken effect as employment had not started. Additionally, there was no means for the employer to have assessed the employee’s performance and terminated them for lack of suitability. The court awarded the plaintiff damages of six weeks’ salary. 

Gender identity / expression to be added as ground of protection under Canadian Human Rights Act

Jurisdiction: - Canada/Federal
Sector: - All

The federal government voted on on June 15, 2017 to add gender identity or expression as a prohibited ground of protection under the Canadian Human Rights Act, which applies to federally regulated organizations in Canada.

One it receives Royal Assent, Bill C-16 - also known as the Transgender Rights Bill - will also add gender expression or identity to the Canadian Criminal Code provisions dealing with hate propaganda, incitement to genocide, and aggravating factors in sentencing.

In the House of Commons debate on the legislation Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said:

Bill C-16 reflects our commitment to this diversity and provides for equality and freedom from discrimination and violence for all Canadians, regardless of their gender identity. With the bill, we say loudly and clearly that it is time to move beyond mere tolerance of trans people. It is time for their full acceptance and inclusion in Canadian society.

She then went on to say:  read more »

SCC: cocaine addicted employee involved in workplace accident dismissed for breach of policy, not drug use

Jurisdiction: - Alberta - All
Sector: - Mining

In a decision issued today - Stewart v. Elk Valley Coal Corp., 2017 SCC 30 - the Supreme Court of Canada tackled the difficult issue of when and on what basis an employer can dismiss an employee addicted to drugs.  

Facts

As set out by the SCC, these are the facts:

[1]   Ian Stewart worked in a mine operated by the Elk Valley Coal Corporation, driving a loader.  The mine operations were dangerous, and maintaining a safe worksite was a matter of great importance to the employer and employees  read more »

16 reasons why Alberta trade unions are celebrating the Fair And Family-Friendly Workplaces Act

Topics: - Top 10 Lists
Jurisdiction: - Alberta

Alberta tabled the Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act on May 24, 2017. See my post on this proposed legislation here: "Recap of changes proposed by Alberta to modernize workplace legislation".

A lawyer at McLennan Ross LLP in Edmonton, Hugh J.D. McPhail, Q.C., has written an article listing out "16 Reasons Why Alberta Trade Unions Are Celebrating The Fair And Family-Friendly Workplaces Act."

In his words, these are the 16 reasons why unions are celebrating this bill:   read more »

City of Vancouver now a certified Living Wage employer

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

This is the City of Vancouver's June 8, 2017 news post on its website:

The City, Park Board, and Vancouver Police Department have taken steps to reduce inequality by becoming living wage employers, certified by the Living Wage for Families Campaign External website (LWFC), a Vancouver-based organization that has certified a range of employers.

Our living wage certification includes the City of Vancouver and Park Board staff and vendors.

The Vancouver Police Department submitted a separate application that was also approved at the same time.

The City of Vancouver joins several local governments in BC who have successfully implemented living wage policies:  read more »