Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for ‘Case Comment’

Religion…Not Religion: Is It Really Just a Toss-Up?

It’s really not surprising that a court would find an organization that calls itself “Church of Atheism” is not a religion. But one has to ask, why couldn’t the Church of Atheism be a religion; it had many of the attributes — kind of. What is “religion”, anyway? Does it depend on context? The Federal Court of Appeal in Church of Atheism of Central Canada v. Canada (National Revenue) waded into the meaning of religion when it upheld the Minister of National Revenue’s decision that the Church of Atheism was not a religion and thus not eligible for charitable status . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Employer’s Failure to Share: Not Fair

Written by Daniel Standing LL.B., Editor, First Reference Inc.

The recent case of the Federal Court of Canada, Chapman v Canada (Attorney General), 2019 FC 975 (CanLII) involved the issue of procedural fairness in the context of a disciplinary investigation. A complaint of wrongdoing was made against a high-ranking public servant who was not provided any particulars of the allegation. Due to a variety of factors, the Court determined that the employee had been denied an opportunity to fully respond to the allegations. As there had been a breach of procedural fairness, the Court ordered that the matter be . . . [more]

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

Are Some Judges Just Slow Learners? Myths and Stereotypes in Sexual Assault Cases

Will we ever reach a point when how women dress or whether they don’t immediately rush to tell someone they’ve been sexually assaulted are not interpreted as superceding consent in determining whether a sexual assault has occurred? It’s been some 20 years since the Supreme Court of Canada, particularly L’Heureux-Dube J. in dissent, but also the majority, in Seaboyer emphasized the distorting role myths and stereotypes play in deciding sexual assault cases. The recent Court of Appeal decision in R. v. Lacombe tells us that some (in this case lower court) judges have still not heard the message. . . . [more]

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

Superior Court of Justice Confirms Restrictive Covenants Voidable Unless Reasonable

Written by Lewis Waring, Paralegal and student-at-law, Editor, First Reference

In Stress-Crete Limited v Harriman, 2019 ONSC 2773 (“Stress-Crete”), the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (“the Court”) partially granted an injunction to an employer against its former employee, upholding two out of three restrictive covenants present in the parties’ employment contract. Namely, the Court upheld the contract’s non-solicitation clause and confidentiality clause, but refused to uphold its non-competition clause. In partially granting this injunction, the Court in Stress-Crete confirmed and clarified the law’s approach to restrictive covenants, that such clauses are unenforceable unless reasonable and are to be . . . [more]

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

Canadian Federation of Students v. Ontario

Earlier this month, the Ontario Divisional Court released its decision (by the Court) in Canadian Federation of Students v. Ontario, striking down the Ontario government’s “Student Choice Initiative” (SCI), which permitted students to opt out of certain ancillary fees that would otherwise have been collected by university and college student unions. The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) (a national student organization, made up of student associations when students have given approval, that is student funded) and The York Federation of Students (YFS) sought judicial review to quash the directives. The Divisional Court decision had to address the government’s attempt . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Injured at Work: Tribunal Clarifies the Limits

Written by Daniel Standing LL.B., Editor at First Reference Inc.

In a recent “right to sue application,” Decision No. 550/19, the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal considered whether a truck driver who sustained an injury at the workplace a short time after his work assignment ended was entitled to sue the employer. In reaching its conclusion that the right to sue was taken away by legislation, the Tribunal made key findings on the issues of whether the truck driver was a worker or an independent contractor and whether the injury was sustained in the course of the . . . [more]

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

Flexibility to Start or Leave Work Does Not Impact Original Employment Contract

A recent Ontario appellate decision confirms that employer flexibility in granting occasional requests, such as the time to start and end work, does not always modify the original employment contract.

Quick facts

The employee in this case worked as a scheduler from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with earlier morning work on occasion. The employee claimed that she had a verbal agreement with the employer that she was allowed to arrive any time before 10:00 a.m. to allow her to manage her childcare obligations. However, the employer claimed that he had discussed her irregular arrival times with her and told . . . [more]

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

Procedural Fairness: Listen to the Other Side

Written by Daniel Standing LL.B., First Reference Editor

A recent case of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, Saskatchewan (Employment Standards) v North Park Enterprises Inc., 2019 SKCA 69 (CanLII), illustrates the importance of the Latin maxim, audi alteram partem which means “listen to the other side,” or “let the other side be heard as well.” All administrative bodies, including labour boards, must comply with the rules of natural justice and procedural fairness. Within those rules there exists the duty to act fairly, which includes allowing the parties the right to be heard. In this case, the Saskatchewan Labour Relations . . . [more]

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

Can a Relationship With a Subordinate Be Cause for Dismissal?

The New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench recently considered if and when a workplace romance could lead to just cause for dismissal.

Quick facts

The employee was a regional manager for New Brunswick and had been employed by the employer since at least 2002. He was dismissed in May 2017 when the employer became aware that the employee was involved in a sexual relationship with another employee whom he supervised and had failed to report the relationship, as required by policy.

Prior to the dismissal, the employer conducted an investigation which confirmed the existence of the relationship. But it also . . . [more]

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

Refusing Dangerous Work Is Not Only in the Eye of the Beholder

Written by Daniel Standing LL.B., Editor, First Reference Inc.

Hassan v City of Ottawa (OC Transpo), 2019 OHSTC 8 confirms the principle that an employee’s belief in a work-related threat that is purely subjective and hypothetical will not allow the employee to invoke the exceptional remedy under the Canada Labour Code to refuse to work.

To legitimately refuse to work on this basis, the employee’s perception of danger must also be objectively reasonable. In this case, the employee’s refusal failed to meet that threshold.

Key facts

The employee was a bus driver working for the City of Ottawa (OC . . . [more]

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

College of Midwives of BC v. MaryMoon

On my way to writing a post applying the UK Supreme Court’s decision on the Boris Johnson prorogation to the City of Toronto decision upholding the province’s reduction of wards, I decided to take a detour to examine the College of Midwives of British Columbia v. MaryMoon in which Madam Justice Sharma held that section 12.1(1) of the BC Health Professions Act (HPA) is unconstitutional because it contravenes section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms without justification. . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Discriminatory Hiring Practices a Blind Spot in the Legal Industry

Written by Lewis Waring, Paralegal, Editor at First Reference

In Moore v Ferro (Estate), 2019 HRTO 526 (CanLII) (“Moore”), a British-trained lawyer licensed to practice in Ontario applied for a position at a law firm and was denied. The applicant responded to his denial by claiming that the law firm had discriminated against him in violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code.

The nature of that discrimination, the applicant claimed, was based upon his race and age and was demonstrated by the firm’s interview procedure, refusal to hire him and the language used in their correspondence with him. . . . [more]

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