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2012

BC HR Tribunal awards $900 in costs against former employee who tried to resile from settlement agreement

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

In Edwards v. Schnitzer Steel Pacific, 2012 BCHRT 335, the BC Human Rights Tribunal:

  • granted the employer's application to dismiss the former employee's human rights complaint under section 27(1)(d)(ii) of the BC Human Rights Code; and
  • awarded the employer $900 in costs due to the fact that the former employee had tried to resile from a settlement agreement that he had previously entered into, with the assistance of his lawyer, with the employer.

Ontario court confirms that employee with "anger management issues" not disabled under Code

Jurisdiction: - Ontario
Sector: - Public Safety

In Gulick v. Ottawa Police Service, 2012 ONSC 5536, the Ontario Superior court confirmed that an employee with "anger management issues" was not disabled for the purposes of the Ontario Human Rights Code and thus not entitled to accommodation.

Specifically, the court stated the following in this case, which involved the dismissal of a police officer:

[15] While the incident giving rise to the disciplinary hearing did involve
some consumption of alcohol and medications, the Hearing Officer found as a
fact that the incident was triggered by anger management issues with which the
applicant had been struggling for several years.  The Hearing Officer found
that alcohol was, at most, an exacerbating factor.  We are not aware of any
jurisprudence which has established that anger management issues will support a
finding of disability.  read more »

California passes legislation prohibiting employers from demanding access to personal social media accounts

Jurisdiction: - United States

California has passed legislation prohibiting employers from demanding access to employees' and job applicants' personal social media accounts. The text of the September 27, 2012 press release from the Govenor's office is as follows:

Governor Brown Signs Laws to Protect Privacy for Social Media Users

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today took to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and MySpace to announce that he has signed two bills that increase privacy protections for social media users in California.

Assembly Bill 1844 (Campos) and Senate Bill 1349 (Yee) prohibit universities and employers from requiring that applicants give up their email or social media account passwords.

"The Golden State is pioneering the social media revolution and these laws will protect all Californians from unwarranted invasions of their personal social media accounts," said Governor Brown.  read more »

Alberta arbitrator: derogatory/threatening Facebook postings about supervisors justified dismissal for cause

Jurisdiction: - Alberta

In Canada Post v. Canadian Union of Postal Workers, [2012] C.L.A.D. No. 85 (March 21, 2012 Ponak) an Alberta arbitrator ruled that employee's derogatory and threatening Facebook postings about her supervisors justified dismissal for cause.

The headnote of the decision summarizes it as follows:  read more »

Jury awards mill manager $573,000 in punitive damages, reported to be largest award in Canada of its kind

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia
Sector: - Forestry

The Vancouver Sun reported on July 27, 2012 that a Prince George jury awarded a former mill manager $573,000 in punitive damages, the largest punitive damages award in Canada in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit.

You can read the story here:"Burns Lake sawmill manager wins major wrongful dismissal suit".

Gender bias in severance settlements, says UVIC professor Dr. Ken Thornicroft

Ken Thornicroft is a well known labour and employment law academic and adjudicator in BC.

He is currently a professor at the University of Victoria, Gustavson School of Business and a member of the BC Employment Standards Tribunal.

Recently he has been studying the issue of gender bias in negotiated  and wrongful dismissal severance awards, and presented a paper that touched on this topic at the CLEBC Employment Law Conference in 2011. That paper can be found here: "Appellate Review of "Reasonable Notice" Awards in Canada: 2000-2010".

On June 4, 2012, UVIC issued this news release concerning his research:

Gender Bias In Severance Settlements  read more »

Alberta Privacy Commissioner will seek leave to appeal in case where ABCA found PIPA breached Charter

Jurisdiction: - Alberta

The Alberta Information and Privacy Commissioner's office issued the following news release yesterday, concerning the Alberta Court of Appeal's decision in United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401 v. Alberta (Attorney General), 2012 ABCA 130, which found the Alberta privacy sector privacy legislation, PIPA, to be unconstitutional:

Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton will apply to the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal the recent decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal in United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401 v. Alberta (Attorney General), 2012 ABCA 130.  read more »

Ontario court urges "business transaction" exemption be added to PIPEDA, grants order for disclosure

Jurisdiction: - Canada/Federal - Ontario

In the Matter of an Application Under Rules 14.05(3)(d), 2012 ONSC 2530, a decision issued on April 26, 2012, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted an order allowing the vendor financial institution to disclose personal information to the purchaser, pursuant to an asset purchase transaction.

In doing so, the court urged, effectively, for the implementation of "business transaction" provisions such as those found in the BC and Alberta PIPAs, stating:

It is evident from this long list of cases that Farley J. was prescient in suggesting that "this type of situation should be addressed to avoid unnecessary court applications."  I join Farley J. in urging that a route be provided that will permit the disclosure of the necessary personal information in such circumstances as these to avoid wasting the court's time and the parties' funds (at para. 12).  read more »

FortisBC applies to BC Labour Relations Board to have certain work functions designated as essential

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia
Sector: - Utilities

FortisBC has filed an application to have certain work functions designated as essential services under the BC Labour Relations Code.

This is the second BC utility to file such an application in the last few months. Back in April 2012, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia ("ICBC") - the province's "basic insurance" vehicle insurer - also filed an essential services application. More information about that application, including the application itself,  can be found on COPE 378's website here.

FortisBC's May 31, 2012 news release states as follows:  read more »