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Archive for ‘Case Comment’

A Tale About Rehiring a Sexual Harasser: Who Wins and Loses?

Today’s “#MeToo” climate and questions about when someone who has been accused of sexual misconduct, although not convicted of it, should be allowed back into the public sphere (to direct films, do comedy routines, assume an executive role in business or whatever) has been much in the media recently. Although not explicitly, a recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal tells us that even if the impact of someone’s return might have significant impact on a victim’s working — and broader — life, return may occur. The final result in Colistro v. Tbaytel 2019 ONCA 197 is not unlike . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Figuring Out Where to Go With a Complaint: Different Answers in Academia and Unionized Workplaces

A recent Ontario Court of Appeal case reaffirmed that for certain purposes, academic complaints are properly brought to court, rather than addressed in university internal processes. In Lam v. University of Western Ontario, 2019 ONCA 82, the Ontario Court of Appeal allowed Lam’s appeal from the decision of a motions judge that his complaint should have been brought as a complaint to the university and not as a claim for damages in superior court. The test for determining where to bring the complaint, said the court, is not the nature of the dispute (here, academic), but “whether the genuine . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment

Wage Rate Sheet for Fellow Employees’ Personal Information Protected Under Alberta’s PIPA

A recent Alberta privacy case, P2019-ND-006 (in PDF), deals with a breach of salary information about identifiable individuals under the Personal Information Protection Act(PIPA). The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Alberta found that “A reasonable person would consider that the identity and salary information could be used to cause the significant harms of hurt, humiliation and embarrassment, particularly if shared with individuals who have a personal or professional relationship with the affected individuals.”

What happened?

. . . [more]
Posted in: Case Comment, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation, Technology, Technology: Office Technology

R. v. Jarvis: The Centrality of Technology

How hard can it be to find that someone who takes surreptitious videos of the breasts of young women who have not given consent is guilty of voyeurism? As it turns out, more complex than one might think.

In R. v. Jarvis, the Supreme Court of Canada took a strong stand against “voyeurism”, particularly in the context of that case. It took what seems to be an inordinate effort of analysis to get there, though. . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment

An Employee Could Have Received 36 Months’ Notice

In a recent Ontario Superior Court case, the unofficial rule of thumb of one month of notice per year of service with an upper limit of about 24 months was set aside when an employee was awarded a 30-month notice period. The Court also held that it would have awarded more, 36 months in fact, if the employee had asked for it.

The Court stated in the decision that,

[30] As a general principle, 24 months has been identified as the maximum notice period in most cases.

. . . [more]
Posted in: Case Comment, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Video Surveillance of Employees and Issues of Evidence

The use of surveillance cameras in the workplace in Canada is quite common. Often, surveillance cameras are installed to deter theft, vandalism, assault, harassment and suspected criminal or improper activity. However, many employees question the right of employers to record them in the workplace and state that it is a breach of their privacy. Do employees’ privacy rights compete with employers’ needs to ensure that his or her employees do their job, come in at the right hours, and don’t behave inappropriately?

This case involves a union’s application to exclude video footage from the admissible evidence in a recent grievance . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

Doctors’ Refusal to Refer Patients for Treatment They Refuse to Provide on Religious Grounds

The importance of religion in Canada is reflected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, both in section 2(a)’s guarantee of “freedom of conscience and religion” and in the inclusion of “religion” as a protected ground under section 15’s equality provision. As all guarantees, these are subject to section 1’s justification for limiting rights, which are “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”. And as do other rights, those related to religious belief may come into tension with other rights and guarantees.

In January 2018, . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment

Frank v. Canada (Attorney General): Renewing Voting Rights

In its first major decision of 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada has held that Canadian citizens who have been residing outside Canada for at least five consecutive years are entitled to vote in federal elections, contrary to provisions in the Canada Election Act. Although the prohibition was first enacted in 1993, until 2007 Canadians living abroad could reestablish the connection considered necessary to vote — and begin to recount their five years — by returning from time to time; however, as of 2007, Canadian had to reestablish residency in Canada before they could vote. (Exceptions were members of . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment

Wilful Act Required to Prove WSIB Fraud

According to the Ontario Court of Appeal, when the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) charges a worker for “wilfully failing to inform the Board of a material change,” the WSIB must prove a wilful act, and, moreover, that a worker intended to obtain WSIB benefits to which he or she is not entitled to. . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

Smelling of Alcohol Not Reasonable Cause to Test for Drugs

A British Columbia Arbitrator recently held in a preliminary award that an employee who reported to work smelling of alcohol did not provide the employer with reasonable cause to test that employee for drugs.

What happened?

. . . [more]
Posted in: Case Comment, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Careful, Lawyer’s Communications Are Not Always Protected

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently found that the communications and conduct of the employer’s lawyer regarding sexual harassment investigation were not privileged and could be referred to in the employee’s Statement of Claim in the litigation against the employer

What happened?

A long-service employee (employed since 2002), while being placed on a performance improvement plan (PIP), raised allegations that her supervisor was bullying and sexually harassing her. In response, her employer:

  • Conducted an investigation but failed to interview the complainant employee during this process;
  • Concluded that the claims were unsubstantiated.
. . . [more]
Posted in: Case Comment, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

Workplace Accident Is Not Enough to Prove Employer Committed General Duty Offence Under OHSA

Following a fatal workplace accident, the Alberta Court of Appeal provided a more comprehensive framework for the actus reus requirement of the general duty provision in Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and clarified that the mere occurrence of a workplace accident does not prove the employer committed a violation.

Fatal workplace accident – Did the employer violate its “general duty” to ensure the health and safety of an employee?

During a “tripping out” procedure on December 20, 2010, at an employer’s drilling rig, an employee suffered a workplace accident and died from blunt cranial trauma and multiple cranial . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions