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Archive for ‘Substantive Law’

Family Status Discrimination – the Federal Court of Appeal Rules

Balancing work and life is a challenge. We all wish we could take time off from work for every personal and family activity that takes place during work hours and in most provinces, human rights laws have created protection against what is referred to as “family status” discrimination. There has been much confusion over the interpretion of this language. Employees want time off and flexible schedules to spend time with their families. Employers need employees to be working at certain times and, for operational needs, often cannot accommodate every request - even if they wanted to. Conflicting decisions from different . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Massive Aggravated Damage Awards Contain a Punitive Element

The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled in a monumental employment law claim which included intentional infliction of mental suffering, affirming an unprecedented award in Boucher v. Wal-Mart Canada Corp. 

The case dealt with a workplace conflict where the plaintiff claimed to be constructively dismissed. The jury found for the plaintiff and awarded 20 weeks salary in damages, the amount specified in her employment contract, $200,000 in aggravated damages against the employer for the manner of dismissal, and $1,000,000 in punitive damages. The jury also awarded an additional $100,000 for intentional infliction of mental suffering against the manager with . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Update: Bill 52, Assisted Suicide Bill Passes Third Reading

The Quebec National Assembly has adopted a historic “right-to-die” legislation (94-22 margin/0 Abstention), the first in Canada. All 22 votes against Bill 52 were from Liberal members, including 10 cabinet ministers. The Bill gives terminally ill adult patients in the province of Quebec, who are of sound mind, the right to palliative care and medical assistance to die in exceptional circumstances and safeguards.
Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

Federal Court of Appeal Rulings on Landmark Family Status Cases

On May 2, 2014, the Federal Court of Appeal released its long-awaited decisions in Canada (Attorney General) v. Johnstone, 2014 FCA 110 (CanLII) and Canadian National Railway Company v. Seeley, 2014 FCA 111 (CanLII). The rulings confirm that child care obligations fall under the scope of family status under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and clarify the test for meeting a prima facie case of discrimination on the prohibited ground of family status. Let's examine what is involved in the accommodation of family status.
Posted in: Case Comment, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

Justice Clément Gascon

In five days, Justice Clément Gascon of the Cour d’Appel will assume Justice Fish’s seat on the Supreme Court.

The announcement from the Prime Minister’s office is terse:

« Je suis ravi d’annoncer la nomination de M. le juge Clément Gascon à la Cour suprême du Canada. M. le juge Gascon, qui siège actuellement à la Cour d’appel du Québec, possède un important bagage d’expérience et de connaissances juridiques dont profitera grandement cette importante institution canadienne. Sa nomination survient au terme de vastes consultations menées auprès d’éminents membres du milieu juridique du Québec. » –

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Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Neighbours From Hell – Marcel Proust to Ed Morgan via the Carlisle

Three delightful legal curios remind us that when neighbours fall out, balance and judgment cascade out the window – or are defenestrated.

Let’s start with Monsieur Proust – who was sensitive beyond sensitivity. Yet even a cork-lined writing room couldn’t shield him from shoes on wooden floors and thin walls, from the harp-playing wife of an American dentist, Marie Williams.

Gallimard published the recently found letters as an epistolary novel, Lettres à sa voisine, last year. The catalogue descibes it thus::

«C’est un vrai petit roman, fondé sur une surprise : la découverte de ces vingt-trois lettres

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

The Jaylene Redhead Inquest Report

Twenty-month old Jaylene Redhead was killed by her mother on June 29, 2009 while both were resident in a second-stage housing facility in Winnipeg. Jaylene had been apprehended from her mother’s care at birth by Awasis Agency of Northern Manitoba but had been returned to her mother’s care at the Native Women’s Transition Centre in the months before her death.

The Inquest Report of Judge Lawrence Allen into her death, released May 23, reveals the awful details of this child’s short life. The inquest was called in 2011 under the provisions of Manitoba’s Fatality Inquiries Act to:

  • inquire into the
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

The Implications of Mandatory Retirements in Partnerships

The Supreme Court of Canada decision in McCormick v. Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, mentioned recently by Simon Chester, will have implications beyond just how human rights legislation applies to mandatory retirement provisions in partnership agreements. Because such provisions will be upheld, firms can be expected to include and rely on them further, and the baby boomer population of lawyers who are quickly approaching retirement age may now expect a forced retirement from partnership.

Some economists reject the “lump labour” theory, which suggests that unemployment can be, in part, attributable to the refusal of older workers to retire. However, even . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

The Nature of Partnership

By some weird synchronicity, the Supreme Courts in both the United Kingdom and Canada in the last 24 hours have considered the nature of partnerships and the extent to which employment law protections also applied to partners.

Yesterday’s decision in Clyde & Co LLP and another (Respondents) v Bates van Winklehof (Appellant) [2014] UKSC 32 held that a junior partner (unhelpfully called an Equity Partner) in a London firm was protected by the whistle-blowing protections of the Employment Rights Act 1996. She had been involved in a rather dubious file in Tanzania and reported to the firm’s money laundering reporting . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law: Foreign Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Climate Change Class Actions Could Spur Greater Emergency Preparedness

There are no such things as natural disasters, only situations with disastrous consequences due to lack of social preparedness. This sentiment was a quite common one to encounter during my time working in emergency management. For example, Ilan Kelman states,

The term “natural disaster” is often used to refer to a disaster which involves an event originating in the environment. The term has led to connotations that the disaster is caused by nature or that these disasters are the natural state of affairs. In many belief systems, including Western thought, deities often cause “natural disasters” to punish humanity or

. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Substantive Law: Foreign Law

Federal, British Columbia and Alberta Privacy Commissioners Issue New Guidelines for Online Consent

Many companies seem to be struggling with the issue of online consent, according to a 2012 study by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC). The review of popular Canadian websites showed significant shortcomings in how organizations communicate their online privacy practices to consumers. On May 8, 2014, the federal, British Columbia and Alberta Privacy Commissioners published new guidelines to help organizations understand the importance of being transparent about their online privacy practices, specifically regarding consent.
Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation