Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for ‘Case Comment’

New Culture Shift Towards Scheduling Court Motions in Ontario

“A litigation culture has arisen in this province over the last three decades which extols creating and litigating peripheral procedural disputes, instead of moving towards the timely adjudication of disputes on their merits. That culture now lauds, as the skilled barrister, the motions specialist, not the final hearing expert.” – Justice David M. Brown 

Given the hurdles presented by COVID-19, the Ontario courts are trying to shift the litigation culture away from litigating peripheral procedural disputes. It was recently acknowledged in a motion to consolidate two matters in Klassen v Klassen, 2020 ONSC 4835, that “[COVID-19] shut down Ontario’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Practice of Law

SCJ Grants CCLA Public Interest Standing to Challenge the Mandatory Gas Pump Sticker

In 2019, the Ford Government announced it would require gas station operators to post stickers about the impact of the federal government’s fuel charge on the price of gasoline. The Ontario Government’s response to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s (CCLA) challenge to the legislation not only defended on the merits, but also argued the CCLA did not have standing to bring its claim. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice rejected both positions in The Corporation of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association v. The Attorney General of Ontario (CCLA v. AG Ont.). Here I focus on Justice Ed Morgan’s determination on . . . [more]

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

Employee’s Mitigation Efforts Under Fixed-Term Contract Reduces Employer’s Liability

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

What is the employer’s liability to a former employee who is dismissed from a fixed-term contract without cause, when that employee mitigates his or her loss by finding another job? Faced with mixed jurisprudence from other jurisdictions, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal answers this question for that province in Crook v Druxbury, 2020 SKCA 43 (CanLII), rendering a decision that is harmonious with the state of the law in Alberta and British Columbia. As a result, in those three Western provinces, the former employee’s mitigation of his or her loss serves . . . [more]

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

Failure to Accommodate Proves Costly

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

The employer’s duty to accommodate an employee was the central issue in the recent Alberta labour arbitration case, First Canada ULC and IUOE, Local 955 (Bartlett), Re, 2020 CarswellAlta 1154. The case pitted a bus driver’s claim of physical disability and request for a reduced workload against the employer’s relentless drive for cost efficiency and safety. The arbitrator’s acceptance of the employee’s grievance and human rights complaint is an instructive account of how employers should approach and deal with employees’ claims for accommodation. . . . [more]

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

Sexagenarian Firefighter Forced to Hang Up Hose

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

In many cases, the choice of when to retire is based on a variety of factors, including lifestyle, priorities and other circumstances. Sometimes the decision to stop working is an easy one, while others prefer to continue working as long as possible. But what happens when an employee’s retirement is not a choice but is a requirement of his or her pension plan? Is it discriminatory? This issue came before the Human Rights Tribunal of Alberta in Aziz v Calgary Firefighters Association, 2020 AHRC 40 when a firefighter nearing the . . . [more]

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

Reasonableness Prevails in Ruling on Due Diligence

By Daniel Standing LL.B., Editor, First Reference Inc.

In R v Kal Tire, 2020 ABCA 200 (CanLII), the Alberta Court of Appeal clarified the law on an employer’s defence of due diligence when charged with an occupational health and safety violation. The matter came before the court when Kal Tire appealed its conviction under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“the OHSA”) for failing to ensure that a truck was rendered sufficiently inoperative while it was being serviced by one of its employees. . . . [more]

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

SCC: Uber Arbitration Unconscionable. Uber Is a Company Known for Pushing Limits, Did They Push Too Far This Time?

There is a class-action lawsuit by Uber drivers in Ontario against Uber alleging, among other things, violations of employment standards legislation. The main issue is whether Uber drivers are independent contractors as the Uber agreement says, or whether they are actually employees.

But before those issues could be heard, the courts had to decide whether those issues could be litigated in the courts, or whether they had to be decided through binding arbitration, as stated in the Uber agreement. The Supreme Court of Canada found the arbitration clause invalid because it was “unconscionable”, and thus the merits of the case . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Complainant Went the Wrong Way Down a Two-Way Street

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

The process of accommodating an employee with a disability is frequently described as a two-way street. Employers must often be creative in finding meaningful ways for an employee to continue contributing to the workplace. It must make efforts to accommodate these employees to the point of suffering undue hardship.

Employees have an equally critical role to play. They must keep the employer informed of their prognosis, provide feedback and accept reasonable solutions that the employer proposes. An employee who refuses a reasonable accommodation proposal treads on very shaky ground. The possibility of continued . . . [more]

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

Employer’s Ultimatum to Accept Changes or Quit Backfires

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

In McLean v Dynacast Ltd., 2019 ONSC 7146 (CanLII), the employer drastically changed the plaintiff’s job and forced him to accept the new arrangement or quit. The plaintiff chose the latter option and successfully sued for constructive dismissal. In accepting the plaintiff’s claim, the court summarized recent case law on mitigation, and awarded significant aggravated or moral damages to the plaintiff. . . . [more]

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

It’s Not as Bad as You Think, Quitting Employee Learns

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

No one wants to work in a toxic work environment. Some may persevere despite the negativity. Others may make a formal complaint and await an investigation, while others may resign. In Gibb v. Palliser Regional School Division No 26, 2020 ABQB 113 (CanLII), Madam Justice J.C. Kubik considered the plight of an employee who chose the third option and then sued her former employer alleging constructive dismissal. Before rejecting the claim, the court summarized the law on resignations and constructive dismissal. Ultimately, while an employee may feel that a workplace . . . [more]

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

Security of Sex Workers Paramount in Court Decision

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

The recent criminal case of R. v. Anwar, 2020 ONCJ 103 (CanLII) involved a constitutional challenge to various provisions of the Criminal Code dealing with prostitution. The challenge contained a distinct workplace safety consideration: it alleged that the interplay between the challenged sections created a legal regime which was intended to prevent sex workers from lawfully using third parties to protect them and to prevent them from associating with others for their mutual protection-aspects which are natural, expected and encouraged in all other sectors of the economy. Before eventually declaring . . . [more]

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

Revisiting R v. S. (R.D.), 1997: A Case About a Black Judge on “Trial” for Acquitting a Black Boy

“It wasn’t that long ago in Canada when our justice system put a Black judge on trial for acquitting a Black boy of allegedly running his bike into an officer’s leg – her offence? Speaking truth to power by stating that sometimes police over-react when dealing with Black youth.” – Professor David Tanovich @dtanovich 

In R v S. (R.D.), 1997 CanLII 324 (SCC), R.D.S. was a young person accused of assaulting a police officer. At trial, the testimonies of the police officer and the accused differed in material ways. The trial judge acquitted R.D.S. after trial. The case . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment