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Posts tagged: investigation

Employer Alert: What to Do When the Ministry of Labour (MOL) Comes Calling

By , April 18, 2017 11:25 am

We often get calls from employers who are the subject of a Ministry of Labour (“MOL”) Inspection.

Sometimes the employer is a target of one of the MOL’s pro-active enforcement blitzes. For information on the MOL’s 2017-2018 blitzes, click here.

And sometimes an employee has called the MOL and lodged a complaint and an investigator has been assigned to investigate the complaint.

Why Are The Number of MOL Orders Increasing?

Several new obligations have been imposed on employers in the last couple of years and in our experience the MOL inspectors usually confirm whether or not an employer is in compliance with these new obligations regardless of the reason for the visit to the workplace. For information on some of these new obligations click here, here, and here.

The Results of a Recent MOL Investigation

This blog discusses a group of orders that a MOL inspector recently imposed on a small employer after an employee complained that she had been harassed at work.

Ironically, even though the employer had complied with the law that was the subject matter of the complaint, the MOL issued several orders against the employer for infractions of the Ontario Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”) including the following:

  1. The employer had not posted a copy of OHSA with the applicable regulation in the workplace
  2. The employer did not have a health & safety representative selected by the workers
  3. A health & safety representative had not inspected the physical condition of the workplace
  4. The employer did not provide basic occupation health & safety training to employees
  5. The employer did not have a health & safety policy posted in the workplace
  6. The employer did not have a workplace violence policy posted in the workplace
  7. The employer did not have a workplace harassment policy posted in the workplace
  8. The employer did not institute best practices for simple but dangerous activities

I suspect that a MOL inspector would issue these orders against many (if not most) Ontario small employers because most small employers are not aware of these obligations.

Penalties a MOL Inspector Can Impose

A MOL inspector has broad powers. If the employer co-operates with the inspector and the violations are minor then the inspector may simply issue an order with a deadline for compliance.

For uncooperative employers, repeat offenders, or serious violations of OHSA, the inspector can issue a ticket with a fine of approximately $ 295, or charge the employer with offences under Part I (maximum fine of $ 1000 per offence) or III (maximum fine of $ 500 000 for third offence) of the Provincial Offences Act. For more information on a MOL inspector’s powers, click here.

Lessons To Be Learned

You should try to stay up to date on changes to Ontario’s employment laws. We distribute this blog every two weeks as a public service to give you an idea of some of the changes in Ontario’s employment laws. We do not blog about all of these changes.

To help employers comply with Ontario’s employment laws we offer a fixed price compliance service that is tailored to your organization’s specific needs.

For over 25 years, Doug MacLeod of the MacLeod Law Firm has been advising employers on all aspects of the employment relationship. If you have any questions, you can contact him directly at 416 317-9894 or at [email protected]

The material and information in this blog and this website are for general information only. They should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. The authors make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of any information referred to in this blog or its links. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found on this website or blog. Readers should obtain appropriate professional advice from a lawyer duly licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. These materials do not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and any of the authors or the MacLeod Law Firm.

 

 

 

OHSA Update: The Cost of Firing an Employee for Filing a Complaint with the Ministry of Labour Just Went Up

By , April 7, 2015 2:24 am

Each year in Ontario, over 10,000 workers file a claim with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) because they’ve been injured on the job to the extent that they cannot return to work the day after the injury. So, employers be wary: workplace accidents are very common and you can incur large costs if they are not handled appropriately. As we will see below, these costs are on the rise.

An employer was recently ordered to pay a former employee 27 weeks pay plus $ 7500 in damages for causing her mental stress in connection with a workplace injury. To my knowledge, this is the first time an adjudicator has ordered an employer to pay damages for mental stress in connection with this kind of complaint.

The Facts

Brenda Bastien worked as a manager at the ProHairlines hair salon.

One day she unplugged her cell phone charger from an electrical outlet. She received a serious electrical shock, which caused electric burns. She provided her employer with a medical note, which stated she could not work because of the electrical burns. The employer did not report the accident to the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board. The employer then refused her request for a leave and ordered her to work reduced hours. Ms. Bastien eventually took a sick leave. While on this sick leave she filed a complaint with the Minister of Labour (the MOL). When the employer found out about the complaint it terminated Ms. Bastien after 3.5 years of employment. The employer refused to issue Ms. Bastien a Record of Employment.

The Complaint

Ms. Bastien filed a no cost complaint under section 50 of Occupational Health and Safety Act claiming she was terminated because she filed a complaint with the MOL. In this kind of complaint, the onus is on the employer to prove it did not violate section 50; that is, it must prove it did not fire the employee for filing the complaint. This is called a reverse onus clause.

The Hearing

The employer did not show up at the hearing so the only evidence before the decision maker was Ms. Bastien’s evidence. Not surprisingly the adjudicator concluded there was a violation of section 50.

The Cost of Non-Compliance

The employer was ordered to pay Ms. Bastien 27 weeks pay for lost wages. She received lost wages up to the date of the hearing, plus an additional 6 weeks pay.

The employer was also ordered to pay Ms. Bastien $ 7500 for causing her mental stress (or about 12 weeks pay).

Lessons to be learned

  1. Report it: When an employee is injured at work the employer should immediately report the accident to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
  2. Attend it: If an employee files a complaint with the MOL and a hearing is scheduled then the employer should always attend it. For another example, of what can happen if you decide not to attend a hearing, click here.
  3. Keep the MOL out of it: In some cases, an employee can obtain more damages from the MOL than in the courts. In this case, an employee with 3.5 years service obtained almost 10 months pay.

For the past 25 years, Doug MacLeod of the MacLeod Law Firm has been advising employers on all aspects of the employment relationship. If you have any questions, you can contact him at 416 317-9894 or at [email protected]

 

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