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Occupational Health & Safety

Failure to investigate employee’s story leads to finding of wrongful dismissal

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia
Sector: - Manufacturing

In Tymko v. 4-D Warner Enterprises Ltd., 2018 BCSC 372, the BC Supreme Court ruled on a wrongful dismissal case arising out of a train derailment. The defendant alleged the plaintiff, a switchman, did not properly clear the tracks. The plaintiff claimed he did not receive appropriate training on what to do in the particular situation that led to the derailment.

Part of the plaintiff's story was that his radio must not have been working as the driver did not respond to his verbal cues to stop the train. The defendant alleged the plaintiff manufactured this excuse to cover up his neglect of duties.

The trial judge expressed reservations about the plaintiff's version of events, but found that the defendant's failure to investigate this ‘important claim’ must result in the plaintiff being given the benefit of the doubt.  read more »

Possession of marijuana sufficient to establish termination

Jurisdiction: - Newfoundland & Labrador
Sector: - Oil & Gas

The impending legalization of marijuana has generated a consistent buzz of articles and discussion on the implications for the workplace. As a potential harbinger of things to come, the Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador recently reversed a judgment on judicial review and upheld an arbitrator’s finding of just cause for possession of marijuana.

In Terra Nova Employers' Organization v. Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, Local 2121, 2018 NLCA 7, the court considered the circumstance of an employee found with a small amount of marijuana in his pocket during screening prior to boarding a transport helicopter to an offshore petroleum platform. The grievor expressed disbelief and surprise at the presence of the marijuana, but the employer terminated the grievor for breaching policies prohibiting possession of drugs and alcohol in the workplace. The arbitrator upheld the dismissal, citing the safety sensitive nature of the work and the need to establish a general deterrent.

On judicial review the court reversed the decision,incorporating the concept of mens rea into the employee’s act of possession, and finding that the employee could not be terminated for unintentionally breaching the policy.  read more »

Ontario's "Changing Workplaces Review" final report reccomends significant changes to workplace laws

Jurisdiction: - Ontario
Sector: - All

On May 23, 2017, the final report from Ontario's "Changing Workplaces Review" was released. The Final Report proposes amendments to Ontario's Employment Standards Act, 2000 ("ESA") and Labour Relations Act, 1995 ("LRA") and contains 173 recommendations.

The Ontario report was, notably, released one day before Alberta introduced legislation to modernize its workplace legislation. Specifically, the Alberta bill (Bill 17 - The Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act) proposes to amend its Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code to support family-friendly workplaces and bring Alberta's standards into alignment with the rest of Canada. Stay tuned for a post on Alberta's initiative.

Genesis of Ontario's Changing Workplace Review

The 419-page Final Report is the culmination of a review that the Ontario government committed to in the 2014 Throne Speech and the Ontario Minister of Labour's 2014 Mandate Letter in relation to the review stated:  read more »

British Columbia government bans mandatory high heels in the workplace

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

The British Columbia government announced today that it is following through on its commitment to ban mandatory high heels in the workplace.

This moves follows the introduction of a bill to the same effect by British Columbia Green Party Leader and MLA Andrew Weaver on March 7, 2017,  International Women's Day.

The full text of the news release is as follows:

B.C. bans mandatory high heels in the workplace

The B.C. government has followed through on its commitment to ban mandatory high heels in the workplace, announced Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, Shirley Bond.

The requirement to wear high heels in some workplaces is a workplace health and safety issue. There is a risk of physical injury from slipping or falling, as well as possible damage to the feet, legs and back from prolonged wearing of high heels while at work.

The change was made by amending the existing footwear regulation (section 8.22) of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, under the Workers Compensation Act.  read more »

Top 10 most significant employment law cases in Canada for women

In light of International Women's Day back on March 8, 2015, Legal Feeds, the Blog for Canadian Lawyer & Law Times published a list of the most significant court decisions for women in the workplace over the last 25 year, as compiled by the lawyers at Rubin Thomlinson LLP in Ontario. Here is the firm's top 10 list:  read more »

NDP's "Intern Protection Act" debated for first time in Parliament

The federal New Democrat Party (NDP) issued the following press release on February 17, 2015 concerning the Intern Protection Act, which is a private member's bill tabled by NDP MP, Laurin Liu:

NDP will protect interns
 read more »