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Supreme Court of Canada

Supreme Court of Canada issues decision on restrictive covenants in employment contracts

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

In a decision issued January 23, 2009 - Shafron v. KRG Insurance Brokers (Western) Inc., 2009 SCC 6 - the Supreme Court of Canada clarified when, in an employment contract, the doctrine of severance may be invoked to resolve an ambiguous term in a restrictive covenant or render an unreasonable restriction in the covenant reasonable.

Facts

In the late 1980s, Mr. Shafron sold his insurance agency business to KRG Insurance Brokers Inc. ("KRG"). Mr. Shafron continued to be employed in the business, however, through a series of employment contracts.

The employment contracts contained a non-competition clause that stated that if Mr. Shafron left KRG for any reason other than being terminated without cause, he would not compete with KRG for a period of three years by being involved with any insurance brokerage business which is carried on within the "Metropolitan City of Vancouver". At the time, the "Metropolitan City of Vancouver" was not a legally defined term.  read more »

"Criminal Offences and Discrimination in Hiring: Can Employers Refuse to Hire an Employee Due to a Pardoned Criminal Offence?"

Jurisdiction: - Quebec

Deborah J. Hudson at Filion Wakely has written an article entitled, "Criminal Offences and Discrimination in Hiring: Can Employers Refuse to Hire an Employee Due to a Pardoned Criminal Offence?" (November 24, 2008).

The article summarizes the Supreme Court of Canada's 6/2 decision in Montréal (City) v. Quebec (Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse), 2008 SCC 48.

Supreme Court of Canada modifies law on Wallace Damages

On June 27, 2008, the Supreme Court of Canada issued its much anticipated decision in Honda Canada Inc. v. Keays 2008 SCC 39.

In the decision, which some view as a victory for employers, the court modified the manner in which Wallace damages are calculated and provided further clarification on when they, along punitive damages, should be awarded in the employment context.

As part of its analysis on Wallace damages, the SCC also provided some guidance to employers on the extent of their right to medical information in accommodation cases.

Background

Mr. Keays had been employed by Honda for 14 years when his employment was terminated in March 2000. At the time, he was in a data entry position.  read more »

"Mitigation in Wrongful Dismissal: 30 Years after Michaels v. Red Deer College"

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

Christopher R. Forguson, of TevlinGleadle Employment Law Strategies, presented a paper on "Mitigation in Wrongful Dismissal: 30 Years after Michaels v. Red Deer College" (April 2008) at the Employment Law Conference - 2008. The conference was held in Vancouver and organized by the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC.

Supreme Court of Canada clarifies when duty to mitigate requires returning to work with same employer

Jurisdiction: - Yukon
Sector: - Unions

In Evans v. Teamsters Local Union No. 31, 2008 SCC 20, which involved a long-serving business agent of the Teamsters Local Union No. 31, the Supreme Court of Canada clarified that there is no principled reason to distinguish between wrongful dismissal and constructive dismissal situations when evaluating the employee's duty to mitigate his or her damages.

Although in some instances the relationship between the employee and the employer will be less damaged where constructive rather than wrongful dismissal has occurred, this will not always be the case. The nature of the employee/employer relationship will need to be assessed on a case by case basis when evaluating the reasonableness of the employee's mitigation efforts.

Under both scenarios, it will be necessary in some circumstances for the dismissed employee to mitigate his or her damages by returning to work for the same employer.

As further set out in the case headnote:  read more »