header_people.jpg

Posts tagged: Employment Lawyer

Amendments to Increase Human Rights Protections for Ontarians

By , December 4, 2018 10:05 am

Various members of the Ontario legislature are working to give additional human rights protections to Ontarians.

Bill 35, the Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2018 is a private member’s bill brought by Liberal MPP, Nathalie Des Rosiers.  Whereas Progressive Conservative MPP, Christina Mita introduced Bill 40, the Human Rights Code Amendment Act (Genetic Characteristics), 2018, which has passed Second Reading and been referred to the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly.

Given the current makeup of the government, it seems much more likely that Bill 40, rather than Bill 35, will pass and become law.  

Bill 40

Bill 40 proposes to add genetic characteristics as a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code. “Genetic characteristics” would mean “genetic traits of an individual, including traits that may cause or increase the risk to develop a disorder or disease.” It will also include protections for those who refuse to undergo a genetic test or refuse to disclose, or authorize the disclosure of, the results of a genetic test.

If passed into law, Ontario will join the Federal government in its protection against genetic discrimination. Of note, however, Bill 40 has an exemption for insurance companies allowing them to make distinctions, exclusions, or preferences with reasonable grounds on the basis of genetic characteristics. Practically, the majority of discrimination on the basis of genetic characteristics currently occurs in the provision of insurance, so this bill may have little actual impact.

Bill 35

Bill 35 resurrects a previous private member’s bill, Bill 164, which attempted to significantly alter the Code.

Bill 35 proposes to add immigration status, genetic characteristics, police records, and social condition as human rights grounds.

While each of these grounds warrants a close examination, adding “social condition” would likely cause the most drastic change to the human rights landscape.  Social condition would be defined as social or economic disadvantage arising from employment status; source or level of income; housing status, including homelessness; level of education, or any other circumstance similar to those.

There has been much debate over adding social condition to the Code in the past.  The ground is meant to provide stronger  protection to the most vulnerable individuals in society. As recognized by the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the argument for its addition is that poverty frequently intersects with other protected grounds and without an explicit protection on the basis of poverty, the most marginalized members of our communities cannot truly benefit from human rights protection.  

Those against its addition often point to the illusive meaning of ‘social condition.’ They further worry about the strain on the system its addition would have by increasing the overall volume of cases. The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario already has a sizeable backlog of cases with lengthy delays between the date of filing an application to the date of a mediation or hearing.

While a significant change, Ontario would not be alone in recognizing social condition as a protected human rights ground. Human rights acts in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Northwest Territories all recognize social condition, social origin, or source of income as protected grounds.

Ontario would also be joining other provinces like British Columbia in having more fulsome protection against discrimination on the basis of “police records.” The Bill proposes to prohibit discrimination due to an individual’s charges, convictions, and contact with police. This would replace the current human rights ground of “record of offences,” which is defined only as an offence for which someone has been pardoned.

Of note, for genetic characteristics, Bill 40 does not include the same exemptions for insurance companies as Bill 35. This means that insurers would not be permitted to make decisions about policy and coverage on the basis of genetic characteristics. Bill 40 would provide much more significant protection to Ontarians on the basis of genetic characteristics.

If all of the changes in Bill 35 became law, employers, service providers, and landlords would need to carefully examine their policies and practices to ensure they are compliant with the new law.  

If you have any questions about  your human rights or these amendments, you can contact MacLeod Law Firm at 647-204-8107 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.

Why having An Employment Lawyer Review An Employment Offer is a Good Idea

By , March 10, 2017 3:00 pm

We have reviewed hundreds of employment contracts (or a written employment offer) on behalf of employees.

In our experience, a written job offer (or employment contracts) will almost always take away some of your legal rights.

As we have written before, the date you sign the contract is important. Depending on how it is written the termination clause  may not be enforceable. We have also shared negotiating tips for senior executives. We have also written about the implications of specific terms that are often included in an employment contract.

Normally, we spend an hour or so with you reviewing the job offer and providing you with our comments and suggested changes. Depending on your negotiating position we may be able to help you improve the offer. At a minimum, you will understand your rights and obligations if you accept the offer.

If you would like to speak to an employment lawyer at the MacLeod Law Firm, you can reach us at [email protected] or 647-204-8107.

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.

When Can Your Employer Terminate You for Just Cause?

By , February 14, 2017 2:51 pm

“Just Cause” is a legal term that describes when employers can terminate employees without providing any notice of termination or pay in lieu of notice.

In a 2016 decision, the Ontario Court of Appeal found that a teacher’s misconduct was serious enough to warrant a just cause termination.

The Legal Test for Just Cause

An employer may dismiss an employee for just cause when the employee’s misconduct is sufficiently serious that it goes to the heart of the employment relationship. The courts will review the nature and extent of the misconduct, consider the circumstances, and determine whether dismissal was warranted.

The Case

In Fernandes v. Peel Educational & Tutorial Services Limited, a private school terminated a teacher for just cause after discovering that the teacher had submitted falsified and incorrect student marks. The school had provided the teacher two opportunities to change the inaccurate marks.  Instead he lied to his employer and covered up his mistakes.

Recognizing that teachers occupy a special position of trust and have professional obligations to students and the school, the court found that the teacher’s actions constituted serious misconduct. The school trusted the teacher to properly evaluate student progress. The teacher intentionally acted against these interests.

The teacher did not describe any circumstances in his life that were affecting his job performance. If he did, this could have explained his actions. The teacher’s actions had endangered the school’s accreditation. The Court stressed that even though the school did not suffer harm, it is the severity of the potential harm that is considered in just cause.

Lessons to be Learned:

  1. Termination for just cause can deny employees significant pay in lieu of notice. Be cautious about your actions at work.
  2. If you are experiencing health issues, including mental health or addiction, that are affecting your work, inform your employer and seek assistance.
  3. Employers often cannot prove just cause. If you were terminated and did not receive notice or pay, speak to a lawyer.

If you would like to speak to a lawyer at MacLeod Law Firm, you can reach us at [email protected] or 647-204-8107.

 “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.”

 

 

The Dreaded Performance Improvement Plan

By , May 9, 2016 10:13 am

We often receive calls from employees who have received a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). This can be a stressful time and employees may feel worried about their employment future. Understanding the law about performance issues and knowing how to respond to a PIP helps relieve some of the worry.

Just Cause for Poor Performance

Just cause is a legal term that means an employer is justified in terminating an employee and not providing the employee with any notice of termination at common law. An employee can agree that certain misconduct is deemed to be just cause in an employment contract; otherwise, the courts generally decide what constitutes just cause.

To determine whether there is just cause to fire an employee without notice, a judge will consider the seriousness of the conduct. Just cause dismissal is warranted when the misconduct is sufficiently serious that it strikes at the heart of the employment relationship.

In cases of performance, the court will consider whether the employer conveyed to the employee the standard of performance required and whether the employer supported or assisted the employee in reaching that standard.  Typically, this process takes time. So, one Performance Improvement Plan is not likely to result in termination for cause.  However, the employer may be laying the groundwork to terminate for cause down the road if the employee’s performance does not improve.

 Context

The court will also look at the context. Is something occurring in the employee’s life to cause the behaviour – for example a mental health crisis or death in the family.

What can employees do?

It is important that an employee respond to Performance Improvement Plan.  However, that response will usually be specific to the employee’s position, the concerns raised in the PIP, and any other issues in the employee’s life which may be relevant to the context.

We recommend that employees who have been provided with a PIP contact an employment lawyer to discuss how to respond. The purpose is to prevent the employer from building a case to terminate the employee for cause.  There may also be disability or other workplace concerns that have resulted in the PIP that the employee should raise with the employer.

If you have received a PIP or warnings about your performance a lawyer at MacLeod Law Firm can assist you. Please contact us at [email protected] or 647-204-8107.

“The material and information provided on this blog and this website are for general information only and should not, in any respect, 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 linked or referred to or contained herein. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found on this website or blog, without first retaining counsel and obtaining appropriate professional advice from a lawyer duly licensed to practice law in the relevant jurisdiction. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and any of the authors or the MacLeod Law Firm.”

Panorama Theme by Themocracy