Michael Torrance

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Failure to Implement Workplace Harassment and Violence Policies can be Costly for Employers

Recent enforcement action under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”) serves as a stark reminder of an employer’s obligation to implement workplace harassment and violence policies and programs in the workplace.  A security company (the “Company”) was recently fined $70,000.00 for non-compliance with orders issued under OHSA. After receiving information about a workplace injury … Continue reading

Ontario Ministry of Labour Clarifies the Definition of a Critical Injury

In January of 2017 the Ontario Ministry of Labour issued a clarifying statement on the definition of a Critical Injury under Regulation 834 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.  This clarification will be of interest for all employers facing a potentially reportable injury in the workplace.  While not binding, it illustrates what the Ministry … Continue reading

New workplace harassment obligations in Ontario

In a new webinar, lawyers from the firm discuss the new requirements for Ontario employers to prevent sexual violence and harassment in the workplace after amendments to Bill 132 came into effect on September 8, 2016. The new requirements revise the definition of “workplace harassment”, impose new requirements for workplace harassment prevention programs and establish new … Continue reading

The importance of timely legal advice in occupational health and safety investigations

Seeking legal advice not only allows an employer to ensure that they are conducting a proper accident investigation, but will also be critical in preserving legal privilege – meaning a document is protected as confidential in a legal process and shielded from adverse parties. On May 9, 2016 the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta … Continue reading

Mining Industry Highlight: Failure to Provide Written Procedures Leads to $55,000 Fine for Employer

Following a Ministry of Labour investigation, a mining company was fined $55,000 on October 26, 2016 after an employee was injured at a mine in Northern Ontario. The employee, an underground mechanic, was replacing an axel on a mining vehicle when an 878-pound tire fell and injured him. Fortunately, three other employees were nearby to … Continue reading

Federally regulated employers can now terminate without just cause

The recent Federal Court of Appeal decision in Wilson v Atomic Energy of Canada Limited addressed the long-standing question of whether federally regulated employers under the Canada Labour Code can terminate employees without just cause. Judge Stratas at the Federal Court of Appeal found that federally regulated employers may dismiss employees without cause upon reasonable notice … Continue reading

Settlements invalidated by dishonesty or breach of conditions

Two recent Ontario decisions show how employee conduct and violation of settlement terms can invalidate such agreements and give a basis for employers to recover payments already made under the settlement Roder v 1049077 Ontario Limited, 2014 ONSC 4389 involved an employee who was dismissed due to poor performance. The employee sued for wrongful dismissal and the parties agreed … Continue reading

Case Note: Importance of Consistency

In Direct Energy Marketing Limited and Unifor, Local 975, 2014 CanLII 657, an arbitrator refused to depart from a prior arbitral award despite his preference for a contrary line of authority.  The prior award – Direct Energy v Unifor, Local 975, 2013 CanLII 94391 – involved a similar grievance alleging a failure on the part … Continue reading

Termination for Facebook post upheld by arbitrator – Despite absence of social media policy

The recent decision of United Steelworkers of America, Local 9548 v Tenaris Algoma Tubes Inc, 2014 CanLII 26445 (ON LA) provides an example of how a unionized employee’s off-duty social media behavior can justify dismissal, despite the absence of any reference to social media in the company’s harassment policies. The grievor was a crane operator … Continue reading

Case Note: On benefit reduction class actions

In O’Neill v General Motors of Canada Ltd., 2013 ONSC 4654, a motion for partial summary judgment was granted in a class action by retired employees of GM after their health care and life insurance benefits were substantially reduced to offset GM’s financial difficulties. Just prior to the scheduled trial of an appeal and cross-appeal … Continue reading

Case Note: On off-the-clock overtime class actions

In August 2014, an Ontario judge approved the proposed settlement in Fulawka v. The Bank of Nova Scotia, a case we have been tracking since its commencement in 2007 and certification as a class action in 2010.  Under the settlement approved by the court, the employer agreed to pay overtime to claimants who had occupied … Continue reading

Estoppel applied by Saskatchewan Court of Appeal to prevent compensation change

In the recent decision of Viterra v Grain Services Union, 2013 SKCA 93 the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal reaffirmed the power of arbitrators to hold parties to past practice in applying a collective agreement through the doctrine of estoppel. This case considered the employer’s long-standing practice of paying of paying certain groups of employees vacation pay on their overtime … Continue reading

Case Note: On playing baseball while on sick leave

In Telus Communications Inc. v. Telecommunications Workers’ Union, 2013 ABQB 355, the court upheld the termination of a grievor who claimed that he had been too sick to attend work in client’s homes but had been able to effectively manage his symptoms on the baseball field. The arbitrator hearing the termination grievance had substituted a … Continue reading

Lying about absence gives just cause for termination, says Alberta Court of Appeal overturning arbitrator

In Telus Communications Inc. v Telecommunications Workers Union, an Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench chambers judge quashed the decision of an arbitrator, upholding termination of a grievor terminated for dishonesty surrounding an absence from work. The decision was later upheld by the Alberta Court of Appeal. The grievor had been denied a request for a day off … Continue reading

Termination notice awarded beyond expiry of fixed term

In the recent decision of Thompson v Cardel Homes Limited Partnership, 2014 ABCA 242, the Alberta Court of Appeal considered the difference between constructive dismissal and simply not renewing a fixed-term employment contract. The employee in that case was hired as a senior executive for a two-year term and his contract was subsequently renewed for an … Continue reading

Evidence of inducement leads to enhanced notice period

In its recent decision of Rodgers v CEVA, 2014 ONSC 6583, the Ontario Superior Court considered both what it means to induce someone to leave their job and the implications of that inducement upon termination. Rodgers had been employed by CEVA as its Canadian Country Manager, CEVA’s most senior Canadian position, for just under 3 … Continue reading

No Just Cause for Employee Punch

In the recent decision of Phanlouvong v Northfield Metal Products (1994) Ltd, 2014 ONSC 6585, the Ontario Superior Court considered an incident of workplace violence to not provide just cause for dismissal. The employee in question was terminated for cause and without notice after a workplace incident in which the employee punched another employee in the face. … Continue reading

Legislative Changes to Labour and Employment Laws in Ontario for 2015

The Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014 received Royal Assent on November 20, 2014, amending five employment and labour statutes, including the Employment Standards Act, 2000, the Labour Relations Act, 1995, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. This posting reviews some highlights of the amendments. Employment Standards Act As of February 20, 2015, the … Continue reading

Executive’s Loss of Share Unit Rights on Resignation Enforceable

In an interesting executive employment decision, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently upheld a contractual provision that resulted in forfeiture of restricted share units after resignation in Levinsky v The Toronto-Dominion Bank. The Plaintiff, a Vice President and Managing Director at TD Bank, participated in the Bank’s Long Term Compensation Plan. The Plan granted the Plaintiff Restricted Share Units … Continue reading

Notice of Termination Pending Sale of Business Inadequate Says BC Court of Appeal

When does notice of termination actually occur when there is a sale of business? That was the question considered recently by the British Columbia Court of Appeal in the recent case of Kerfoot v Weyerhaeuser Company Limited, 2013 BCCA 330 (CanLII).  The answer could have significant implications for potential liability associated with a sale of … Continue reading

New Ontario Statutory Leaves of Absence

The Ontario Employment Standards Amendments Act (Leaves to Help Families) came into force on October 29, 2014, creating three new unpaid family-related leaves for employees: (1) Family Caregiver Leave; (2) Critically Ill Child Care Leave; and (3) Crime-Related Child Death or Disappearance Leave. This post will highlight the salient features of these new provisions affecting … Continue reading