Tag archives: human rights

A reminder to BC employers: Family care obligations to accommodate family care needs amid pandemic

Covid-19 has made working from home the new normal for many employees. This new reality has created challenges for employees  who, due to the closure of schools, daycares and other social services, have had to serve as full-time caregivers in addition to carrying out their everyday work tasks. Under these circumstances, it is important for employers to understand their obligations for accommodating the family care needs of employees.

Family status accommodation during Covid-19

The issue of family status accommodation is not new. In past newsletters we have explored how various tribunals across Canada have come up with differing tests on … Continue Reading

CHRT paves the way for more efficient, adaptable Rules of Procedure in federal human rights sphere

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (Tribunal) has published a number of proposed changes (Proposed Changes) to the current Rules of Procedure (Rules). According to the Tribunal, the Proposed Changes will be published shortly in the Canada Gazette, Part I.  However, some delays in publishing the Proposed Changes may occur due to COVID-19-related reasons.

What is the general intent of the Proposed Changes?

The Proposed Changes include the modernization of service and filing methods, and promote overall efficiency during proceedings. Specifically, the Proposed Changes are intended to provide parties with more efficient ways to bring and respond to complaints, and to … Continue Reading

Tribunal canadien des droits de la personne : Vers des Règles de pratique plus efficaces et plus souples

Le Tribunal canadien des droits de la personne (« Tribunal ») a publié les changements qu’il se propose d’apporter (« changements proposés ») à ses Règles de pratique actuelles (« règles »). Selon le Tribunal, les changements proposés seront bientôt publiés dans la Partie I de la Gazette du Canada. Toutefois, en raison de la COVID‑19, des retards sont à prévoir.

Quel est le but général visé par les changements proposés?

Ils portent notamment sur la modernisation des modes de signification et de dépôt et favorisent en général l’efficacité des procédures en offrant aux parties des façons plus efficaces … Continue Reading

Les droits religieux et le port des équipements de protection

En cette période de pandémie, certains employeurs envisageront l’adoption d’une politique concernant l’utilisation des équipements de protection individuelle, tels que la blouse, les gants, le masque ou encore la protection faciale. L’adoption d’une telle politique peut, pour certaines personnes, avoir pour effet d’opposer leurs droits religieux et leur propre santé et sécurité ou celles des autres travailleurs. Dans une telle situation, est-ce qu’un travailleur peut être exempté de l’application d’une politique obligeant le port de ce genre d’équipements?

L’affaire Singh c Montréal Gateway Terminals Partnership

La Cour d’appel s’est prononcée sur cette question à l’automne dernier dans l’arrêt Singh c. … Continue Reading

Religious rights and wearing protective equipment

During this pandemic, certain employers will consider adopting a policy on using personal protective equipment, such as gowns, gloves, masks or even facial protection. For certain people, adopting such a policy may have the effect of encroaching on their religious rights and protecting their own health and safety or that of other workers. In such a situation, can a worker be exempted from a policy requiring that this type of gear be worn?

Singh c Montréal Gateway Terminals Partnership

The Quebec Court of Appeal rendered its ruling on this matter last fall in Singh c. Montréal Gateway Terminals Partnership[1]Continue Reading

Easter & Passover 2020: Pandemic reminders for employers

Good Friday marks the start of the Easter long weekend in Canada. Undoubtedly, this year, festivities will be observed differently. Due to COVID-19, large gatherings are currently prohibited and most private and public places of recreation are closed, including places of worship. Employers must continue to navigate these trying times, holiday or not. Below, we have outlined a few key reminders for employers and as the long weekend approaches.

Non-essential services closed

Jurisdictions across Canada have ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses, some until at least May, pursuant to powers under applicable emergency legislation. This weekend will be no … Continue Reading

Pandemic Q&As: Walking off the job, limitation periods, symptomatic employees and human rights considerations

In this blog post, we provide answers to the following four questions posed by Ontario employers:

  1. Can my employees walk off the job for fear of contracting COVID-19?
  2. Do I still need to meet my filing deadlines?
  3. One of my employees reported having COVID-19 after reporting to work for several days—what do I do?
  4. Is a COVID-19 infection a disability?

Q1: Can my employees walk off the job for fear of contracting COVID-19?

Short answer: No.

In press conferences last week, Premier Doug Ford stated:

We passed legislation.  Not just construction workers—any worker in Ontario—if you don’t feel

Continue Reading

Foire aux questions sur la pandémie : Quitter le travail, délais de prescription, employés symptomatiques et questions de droits de la personne

Dans cet article de blogue, nous répondons aux quatre questions suivantes que se posent les employeurs ontariens :

  1. Mes employés peuvent-ils quitter leur travail par crainte de contracter la COVID-19?
  2. Dois-je toujours respecter mes échéances de dépôt?
  3. L’un de mes employés a déclaré être atteint de la COVID-19 après s’être présenté au travail pendant plusieurs jours – que dois-je faire?
  4. L’infection par la COVID-19 constitue-t-elle un handicap?

Q1 : Mes employés peuvent-ils quitter leur travail par crainte de contracter la COVID-19?

Réponse brève : Non.

Lors de conférences de presse la semaine dernière, le premier ministre Doug Ford a déclaré Continue Reading

Check-in for a Check-up – An Employer’s Duty to Make Inquiries

Excessive absenteeism is one of the most difficult issues facing human resource professionals today.  It is also one of the more complex areas of labour and employment law.  One of the reasons why excessive absenteeism is so complicated is because it often raises human rights implications.

The perfect example is found in Coast Mountain Bus Company and CAW, Local 111 A-227/04 (Joan Gordon) — an old case with facts still faced by today’s employer nearly two decades later.  The employer hired the employee as a bus driver in 1996 and terminated the employee in 2003 for excessive non-culpable absenteeism.  The … Continue Reading

BC Court of Appeal affirms BC approach to “family status” discrimination cases

The British Columbia Court of Appeal (the “BCCA”) recently issued an important decision about family status discrimination. In Envirocon Environmental Services, ULC v. Suen (“Envirocon”), a unanimous BCCA affirmed the existing legal test for adverse discrimination on the ground of family status under the BC Human Rights Code (the “Code”). For BC employers, this is a welcome decision.

In Envirocon, Mr. Suen was fired when, shortly after the birth of his daughter, he refused a work assignment that would have required him to work outside of BC for eight to ten weeks. Mr. Suen alleged … Continue Reading

New York State and New York City employers face new compliance requirements

Recently, New York State and New York City have continued the trend of enacting employee-friendly legislation and issuing broad enforcement guidance under their respective employment laws and regulations.  New York State and New York City employers should be aware of the following recent developments from 2018 and early 2019, and should take action to review and update their practices and policies for compliance.

New York City lactation room and policy laws — new policy requirement

Federal and New York State laws already require employers to make reasonable efforts to provide a room other than a bathroom where a nursing employee … Continue Reading

The beginning of a revolution (by the French lower courts) ?

French President Emmanuel Macron implemented a significant reform of the French employment code in late 2017, with the intention of providing employers greater flexibility and predictability in managing labour relations.

One of the most controversial measures was the creation of a grid applicable to the amount of indemnities due to employees for unfair dismissal, setting minima and maxima as a function of the length of service of the employee and the headcount of the employing entity.

Prior to the adoption of the grid, courts were free to determine the amount of damages payable to unfairly dismissed employees based on the … Continue Reading

Bill C-86 Receives Royal Assent: New Leaves, Greater Notices, Proactive Pay Equity & More

Bill C-86, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (the “Bill”), received Royal Assent on December 13, 2018. As noted in our previous publications on the Bill’s amendments to the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”) and the introduction of the new (proactive) Pay Equity Act, significant cost and resource-intensive changes to the federal sphere of employment, labour and human rights law are now at every federally-regulated employer’s doorstep.

The Bill provides that many of the amendments to the Canada Labour Code will not come … Continue Reading

Direct Discrimination – how far can this go?

The recent case of Lee v Ashers Baking Company Limited and Others has hit the headlines in looking at what amounts to direct discrimination in terms of the provision of services to individuals.  What effect does this case have on discrimination in the employment field?

The case involved a family owned bakery, whose owners strict religious beliefs include opposition to gay marriage. They were asked to provide a customised cake with a photograph and wording stating “Support Gay Marriage”.  They cancelled the order due to their religious belief and provided a refund to the customer.

The individual brought a discrimination … Continue Reading

Dismissal for misconduct cannot be based (solely) on anonymous reports

Anonymous reports have been mistrusted for a number of years in France, for historical reasons. While anonymity enables individuals to raise their voice more openly, without being the targets of retaliation measures, it can also drift into slander.

This explains a specificity of French law under which whistleblowers using ethicals lines are strongly encouraged to disclose their identity since generally speaking, , anonymous reports are not acceptable (although a limited number of exceptions are available).

It is only very recently that the French Supreme Court had to resolve a case involving an employee dismissed on the basis of anonymous reports.… Continue Reading

Employees’ freedom of speech on the Internet is not without boundaries

Books, hotels, restaurants, products: you can find reviews and rating websites for just about everything on the internet – even employers. However, employees posting internet reviews of their employer should be careful and measured in what they say, or risk being subjected to disciplinary measures  – or even dismissal – if they abuse their freedom of speech.

A recent decision of the French Supreme Court provides an illustration justifying such a warning.

A communication agency was warned by one of its clients that a very negative review had been posted (anonymously) on a website specializing  in publishing  reviews and rating … Continue Reading

Employeurs sous réglementation fédérale : préparez-vous, l’équité salariale proactive s’en vient

Plus tôt cette année, nous avons appris que le gouvernement fédéral allait de l’avant avec sa promesse de renouveler le régime fédéral d’équité salariale  À ce jour, le gouvernement fédéral n’a pas présenté de loi. Cependant, dans le Budget de 2018, le gouvernement a promis un régime fédéral d’équité salariale proactif concordant avec celui de l’Ontario et du Québec : l’équité salariale proactive. Selon le Budget de 2018, la nouvelle loi fédérale sur l’équité salariale :

  • s’appliquerait aux employeurs fédéraux comptant au moins 10 employés et les exigences sur l’équité salariale seraient intégrées, dans la mesure du possible, aux
Continue Reading

Will Artificial Intelligence Need Human Rights Training ?

The Financial Post interviews Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP’s patent and trademark lawyer Maya Medeiros on Artificial Intelligence’s discriminatory biases.

Despite all of the advances in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), experts reveal that these technologies are not immune from some of the less-than-admirable tendencies which afflict humans.

As recently reported by the Financial Post, experts have noted increasing biases that plague the decisions made by AI software. Specifically, AI outputs have been found to discriminate on the bases of race, ethnicity, gender and disability.

This phenomenon presents novel challenges to precisely the areas that have historically been susceptible … Continue Reading

La présomption d’innocence peut-elle s’opposer au licenciement d’un salarié fondé sur des faits visés par une procédure pénale ?

La Cour de cassation a été saisie d’un dossier concernant un salarié de la société Euro Disney, qui avait été licencié à la suite de la découverte, par son employeur, et dans le cadre d’une enquête pénale, du fait que celui-ci avait acheté à l’un de ses collègues des stupéfiants.

En effet, au printemps 2012, une procédure d’instruction avait été ouverte pour rechercher des faits d’infraction à la législation sur les stupéfiants au sein du parc d’attraction. Plusieurs salariés avaient alors été mis en cause. Dans le cadre de cette procédure pénale, la société Euro Disney s’était constituée partie civile, … Continue Reading

Proposed amendments to the Ontario Human Rights Code include new prohibited grounds of discrimination

On October 4, 2017 Bill 164, The Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2017 was introduced into the Ontario Legislative Assembly and passed First Reading the same day. If enacted, it would expand the prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”) to include immigration status; genetic characteristics; police records; and social conditions.  These new grounds would be in addition to the prohibited grounds already covered in the Code, with one notable exception, as explained below.

Bill 164 is a private member’s bill brought by Nathalie Des Rosiers, Liberal MPP for Ottawa – Vanier.  … Continue Reading

Use of social media in France: Employee’s rights and obligations

The impact of the use of social media in the workplace has regularly given rise to controversies and debates as how this subject is to be handled by a company’s management. The current state of employment law is still not entirely settled in this respect. It is however possible to provide some guidance on the most common issues arising from such use with regard to employment law (data protection regulations will not be considered in this article).

Access and control of social media in the workplace

As a general rule, employees are allowed to access the internet for non-professional purposes … Continue Reading

Monitoring of employees’ emails: Bărbulescu v. Romania

This post was co-written by Sabrina English, Trainee Solicitor, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, London

A recent decision of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has held that an employer had infringed an employee’s rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention) when it dismissed him for sending private messages via a work messaging system. This decision overturns the earlier decisions of the Fourth Section of the European Court of Human Rights and the domestic Romanian Courts (discussed in an earlier post) which had both ruled that there had been no violation … Continue Reading

Federally Regulated Employers Prohibited From Discriminating Based on Gender Identity

The changes contained in Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code officially came into force on June 19, 2017.

Introduced in May 2016, Bill C – 16 amends the Canadian Human Rights Act by adding “gender identity or expression” as a prohibited ground of discrimination.  This means that federally – regulated employers (including, for example, employers in the airline, inter-provincial railway and trucking, banking and telecommunications industries) cannot refuse to employ or continue to employ an individual because of their gender identity or expression. It also means that employers, in the course … Continue Reading

Employers may be justified in requesting an independent medical examination as part of the procedural aspect of the duty to accommodate


Jurisprudence on independent medical examinations (IME) in the context of the employer’s duty to accommodate is sparse.  The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently provided much-needed guidance in Bottiglia v Ottawa Catholic School Board.  In Bottiglia, the Court held that in certain circumstances, an employer may be justified in requesting an IME as part of the duty to accommodate under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code).

The Facts

Marcello Bottiglia worked for the Ottawa Catholic School Board (School Board) from 1975 until he went on sick leave in April 2010.  At … Continue Reading