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Archive for ‘Case Comment’

Callow, Fraser and G: Perspectives on the Role of Law and of the Courts

Three recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions illustrate the very different perspectives or philosophies the judges bring to their consideration of the cases before them. The most recent, CM Callow Inc. v. Zollinger, dealt with the duty of honest performance in contract law, while the other two were concerned with equality issues: Fraser v. Canada (Attorney General), which considered whether the RCMP pension plan discriminated against members (primarily women) who shared jobs, and Ontario (Attorney General) v. G, involving the different treatment of persons found guilty of a sexual offence and those who had committed a sexual . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Tribunal Finds No Link Between Disability and Dismissal

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

Neil Patzwald was an engineer who worked at FMC Corporation from March 2011 to September 2013. His short tenure was marked by multiple lengthy absences for medical reasons, disagreements with his superiors about his abilities and suitability for his position-culminating in an acrimonious end to the employment relationship. Since it became apparent the employee had a disability, the case became centered on the employer’s duty to accommodate Mr. Patzwald. The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal determined that the company did not discriminate against Mr. Patzwald on the basis of disability contrary . . . [more]

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

Adducing Sensitive Evidence and Writing Decisions: Where Do We Draw the Line?

In my November 17th Slaw post “Making the Hard Decisions: Ethical Lawyering”, I discussed Dean Embry’s refusal to make certain arguments and call certain evidence and witnesses in his representation of James Sears, editor of Your Ward News (YWN), a community newspaper. Sears was convicted of spreading hate and, despite his accepting these views about what might be successful in his defence, a ground of his appeal was that Embry was incompetent because of his (Embry’s) failure to argue the truth of the content of YWN. In this post, I’m raising another issue related to the trial decision in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Miscellaneous

Hidden Harsh Termination Clause Voids Contract

By Lewis Waring, Paralegal, Studen-at-Law, Editor, First Reference Inc.

In Battiston v Microsoft Canada Inc (“Microsoft”), an employee was wrongfully dismissed because his employer had failed to bring a harsh termination clause to his attention. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice’s decision in Microsoft resulted from a combination of the fact that the clause was relatively harsh as well as the fact that the employer had buried the clause deep within his employment contract and failed to sufficiently notify the employee of its contents.

The employer, in this case, was Microsoft Canada Inc, a subsidiary of Microsoft Corp, a global . . . [more]

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

British Columbia Worker’s Right to Refuse Work Denied

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

In a recent decision under the British Columbia, under the Workers Compensation Act, an investigations legal officer dismissed a worker’s prohibited action complaint. The worker decided not to report to work as a bartender out of concern of contracting COVID-19. The case, reported here, examines the sufficiency of evidence required to prove a prima facie complaint. In dismissing the case, the WorkSafeBC officer clarifies the employee’s duty to be physically present at the workplace while his or her claim of unsafe working conditions is dealt with under the established procedure. . . . [more]

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

Rift on the Supreme Court Bench? Cont’d (Fraser and G)

In my November 3rd Slaw post on the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Fraser, I considered the division on the Court relating to the interpretation of section 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The majority decision, written by Abella J., emphasized a broad interpretation, stressing the significance of adverse effects discrimination and the goal of substantive equality. In their dissent, Brown and Rowe JJ. applied a narrower interpretation, as did Côté J. in her separate dissent. Now we have Ontario (Attorney General) v. G, which not only reminds us of the cleft in . . . [more]

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

Employees’ Imperfect Right to Reasonable Accommodation

By Lewis Waring, Paralegal and Student-at-Law, Editor, First Reference Inc.

Human rights claims are often the result of an employee’s claim that their employer has failed to accommodate their needs. Whether such claims arise due to an employee’s disability, family status, gender, religion or any other human rights ground, employees have a duty to accommodate the human rights needs of their employees. However, the duty to accommodate does not require employers to provide employees with their ideal option. Instead, employees are only required to provide reasonable accommodation.

In a recent British Columbian human rights case, an employer fulfilled its duty . . . [more]

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

Current Trend: Optimism That Civil Jury Trials Will Take Place in Spring 2021

COVID-19 has delayed many civil jury trials, creating concerns of prejudice. In the recent decision of Saadi v. Silva, 2020 ONSC 6700, the plaintiff brought a motion to strike the jury after the trial was adjourned.

In October, a jury was selected for the Saadi v Silva matter. However, after jury selection, Premier Ford announced that Toronto would return to a modified Stage 2. As part of this return, in-person trials were to continue at the discretion of the trial judge. Since in this case, no evidence had been called and no opening statements were made, the jury . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment

Supreme Court Clarifies Law on Adverse Effect Discrimination

The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Fraser v. Canada (Attorney General), 2020 SCC 28 provides a sweeping overview of the law of adverse effect discrimination. This decision specifically targets the alleged discriminatory effect of the RCMP’s policy not to allow those who temporarily reduce their working hours under a job-sharing agreement to “buy back” these periods of reduced working hours for the purposes of their pension. In contrast, those who experienced gaps in their record of service by reason of suspension or spending time on unpaid leave did have the opportunity to buy back pensionable service time. After . . . [more]

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

Dissecting the Majority and Dissenting Opinions in Fraser

The Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision in Fraser v. Canada (Attorney General) (“Fraser”) illustrates the fissures on the Court in the judges’ approaches to equality undersection 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Although there are also other factors explaining the differences in the majority and dissenting opinions, here I discuss three that are somewhat distinct from the facts of the case: the nature of “equality” under section 15(1); the interrelationship between the law and the social and economic context; and the role of the courts. . . . [more]

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

Do Peremptory Challenges Help Make a Jury More Impartial?

“Peremptory challenges, by enabling each side to exclude those jurors it believes will be most partial toward the other side, are a means of eliminat[ing] extremes of partiality on both sides… assuring the selection of a qualified and unbiased jury.” – Justice Scalia in Holland v Illinois.

Today, the Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments in the Pardeep Singh Chouhan case about the significance of peremptory challenges in jury selection. “Bill-C-75 — An Act to Amend the Criminal Code — came into effect on Sept. 19, 2019. The legislation modified the jury selection procedure under the Criminal Code by . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment

Employee Angry Outburst Leads to Short Lived Termination

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

The 2019 British Columbia labour arbitration decision regarding BC Hydro and Power Authority and IBEW, Local 258 (Vanegas), Re (2019 CarswellBC 4126), considered the case where a worker with a history of poor behaviour had an outburst in a fact-finding meeting. This culminating incident led to his dismissal. The arbitrator’s decision demonstrates the traditional analysis that takes place in disciplinary cases with a consideration for various aggravating and mitigating factors. In this case, despite the worker’s poor record and lack of remorse, several compelling mitigating factors convinced the arbitrator to substitute . . . [more]

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