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Public Administration

Legal Services Society and BCGEU ratify collective agreement

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

The BC Government issued a news release today announcing that the Legal Services Society and the British Columbia Government Employees' Union (BCGEU) have ratified a new collective agreement. 

The release states that the Society employs approximately 106 BCGEU members at locations on the Lower Mainland and in Terrace, including:

  • legal secretaries,
  • intake legal assistants (who process client legal aid applications/referrals and provide legal information),
  • IT employees, and
  • administrative employees.

The tentative agreement was reached in August 2010 - see this August 23, 2010 news release from the government. Neither media release addresses the terms.  read more »

Discrimination based on "family status" where Canada Border Services refused to modify schedule for mother of two

Jurisdiction: - Canada/Federal

In a decision issued last month - Johnstone v. Canada Border Services, 2010 CHRT 20 - the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ("CHRT") found discrimination based on "family status" where Canada Border Services refused to modify the work schedule for an employee who was the mother of two young children but who wanted to still have full-time hours.

The decision re-affirms that the scope of "family status" in human rights legislation can encompass childcare responsibilities.

Law firm Oglivy Renault has written a good summary of the decision ("Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Weighs In on Accommodating Employee Childcare Obligations") which can be found here.

Both parties have apparently filed an application with the Federal Court of Canada for judicial review of the decision, Ms. Johnstone on the basis that the CHRT should have awarded her reimbursement for her legal fees.  read more »

Supervisor's defamatory appraisal of dismissed employee protected by qualified privilege

In Dawydiuk v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, 2010 BCCA 353, the BC Court of Appeal addressed whether the contents of an email written by a dismissed employee's supervisor were defamatory and , if so, whether they were  protected by the defence of qualified privilege.

Background 

Ms. Dawydiuk began her employment with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia ("ICBC") in 1988 as a clerk. At the time of her dismissal in 2004, she was 38 years-old and in a managerial position.

Ms. Dawydiuk had been off work since June 2003, first on a sick leave and then on a maternity/parental leave.  She was scheduled to return to work on October 4, 2004.

On July 5, 2004, while still on leave, Ms.Dawydiuk was phoned by her supervisor and advised of a restructuring that had resulted in her position being eliminated. Her supervisor advised her of two other available managerial positions, however, and asked her to let him know which one she would like.  read more »

Reasonable to request Functional Capacity Evaluation and Independent Medical Examination in accommodation process

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

In a recent case - Sluzar v. City of Burnaby (No. 3), 2010 BCHRT 19 - the BC Human Rights Tribunal ruled, among other things, that the employer had a valid and reasonable basis for requesting that the employee attend a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) and an Independent Medical Examination (IME) with a psychologist, as part of the accommodation process.

You can read Bull Housser Tupper's summary of this case here.

Employee’s refusal to extend Return to Work Agreement, acknowledge alcohol dependency, not just cause

In Taylor v. New Westminster (City) (Vancouver Registry S084283, August 19, 2009), the court found that the employer did not have just cause to dismiss an employee who refused to sign an extension to a Return to Work Agreement that required him to acknowledge that he had an alcohol dependency.

Background

At the time of his dismissal, the employee was 54 years old, had 16 years of service and earned a salary of approximately $90,000 per annum. He was Manager of Fleet Services, a safety sensitive position in that he supervised a team of mechanics who performed maintenance and repair work on the employer's various vehicles, including those for the fire and police departments.

Until February 2007, the employee had "an excellent work history" and the employer had "no concerns about his safety in the workplace" (para. 9).

The Incident  read more »

Judge declines to award special costs in case where unionized employee sued employer in court

The BC Supreme Court judge in Johnston v. Surrey (City), 2009 BCSC 1520, refused to award special costs in a case where a unionized employee filed a lawsuit in court against his employer alleging constructive dismissal.

Background

The long term employee filed a lawsuit in spring 2008 against the defendant employer (and a named individual) alleging that he was constructively dismissed.

Upon receipt of the Statement of Claim, the employer advised the employee of its position that:

  1. the circumstances giving rise to the constructive dismissal - a layoff -  occurred in 1995 and 1996 and thus were time barred by the limitation period set out in the BC Limitation Act; and
  2. the employee was a unionized employee and therefore the claim was not within the jurisdiction of the court.

The employee further requested that the Claim be withdrawn failing which the employer would bring an application to strike the Claim pursuant to Rule 19(24) and seek special costs  read more »

BC court rules that employer permitted to reduce post-retirement group benefits, dismissses class action

Topics: - Benefits - Class Actions
Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

In Bennett v. British Columbia, 2009 BCSC 1358, the BC Supreme Court ruled that the employer  - the provincial government - was permitted to reduce post-retirement group benefits, and thus dismissed a class action.  There were approximately 27,000 people in the impacted class.

Law firm Heenan Blaikie has written a summary of the case: "Reduction in Retiree Benefits Sanctioned in British Columbia" (October 7, 2009).

Courts will not enforce fines that unions impose on members who cross picket lines

Jurisdiction: - Alberta - Ontario - Saskatchewan

By dismissing two leave to appeal applications on May 7, 2009 - one from Ontario and the other from Alberta - the Supreme Court of Canada has stipulated that the courts in Canada (save for in Saskatchewan) will not enforce fines that unions impose on their members who cross legal picket lines.

In the Ontario case  - Union of Taxation Employees Local 70030 v. Jeffrey Birch et al. - the employees worked for Canada Revenue Agency and were members of the Union of Taxation Employees Local 70030, a component of the Public Sector Alliance of Canada.

During a legal strike in 2004, the employees crossed the picket law on three days so that they could continue to work. Pursuant to the provisions in its constitution and by-laws, the union suspended the employees' union memberships for three years and also fined them each $476, which was equivalent to the total of the employees' gross salary for the three days.

The employees refused to pay their fines, resulting in the union filing a lawsuit against them in Small Claims Court.  The case was subsequently elevated to the Ontario Superior Court as a test case.  read more »