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Employment / Severance Archives

BIG EMPLOYMENT LAW CHANGES IN ONTARIO DUE TO BILL 148, THE FAIR WORKPLACES, BETTER JOBS ACT, 2017

On November 27, 2017, the Ontario government passed Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, which received Royal Assent. Bill 148 makes significant amendments to Ontario's Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the "ESA"). Certain amendments are already in force, with other amendments coming January 1, 2018, and throughout 2018 and 2019. This blog will focus on the changes to the ESA.

Postmedia-Torstar deal means wrongful dismissal suits likely to follow

This week, Torstar Corp. and Postmedia Network Inc. announced their deal to sell newspapers to one another to reduce competition and monopolize advertising revenue. As a result of this deal, Postmedia announced it will cutting 244 jobs and is shutting down 24 newspapers, including the following from eastern Ontario:

Failure to comply with Employment Standards Act minimum requirements is fatal to employers

Employment contracts set out the terms of employment and an employee's obligations. Included in the employment contract is usually a clause that sets out what happens when the employment relationship ends, and this clause is often the most litigated.

Dismissed Employee Entitled to $50,000 in Punitive Damages

When someone loses their job, it is not hard to imagine they experience a range of emotions, including pain and distress. However, the courts in Ontario have been clear that these feelings are a natural result of being terminated and the dismissed employee will not be compensated financially in addition to any notice period they may be entitled to.  However, the Supreme Court of Canada made in clear in Bhasin v Hrynew, 2014 SCC 71, that employers have a duty of honesty in contractual performance. Simply put, this means employers have a duty to be honest and not knowingly mislead an employee during their employment, up to and including termination. If an employer fails to do this and instead engages in bad faith conduct that is harsh, vindictive, reprehensible or malicious in nature, then punitive damages can be awarded.

Notice periods for short-term employees who are terminated.

Short-term employees who are terminated from their jobs often believe they won't get a long notice period or significant severance pay because they haven't worked at the company for a long time. Absent an enforceable termination clause in their employment contract, this is often not true.

Former employee files wrongful termination suit against city

What may seem like the right course of action can sometimes lead a person into unexpected trouble. When an employee of an Ontario city pointed out illegal activity to his superiors, he likely did not anticipate the backlash. He ended up taking the city to court, citing wrongful termination.

Employees on salary are entitled to overtime compensation

The Ontario Court of Appeal ordered in Fresco v. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Fulawka v. Bank of Nova Scotia that the class actions by staff at CIBC and Scotiabank for unpaid overtime can proceed. Due to the certification, the very threat of a lawsuit prompted other large companies to take notice of their overtime policies and practices.

Employment News: A temporary layoff may be a dismissal!

In Trites v. Renin Corp, 2013 ONSC 2715, an employment law matter, the Ontario Superior Court gave employers a misconceived confidence that they can lay off employees provided they follow the requirements of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 ("ESA").

Can employers end fixed term contracts before the term is expired?

A recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal, Howard v. Benson Group Inc., 2016 ONCA 256, has given employers and employees some guidance on early termination of fixed term contracts. Parties to a fixed term employment contract can specifically provide for early termination and specify a fixed term of notice or payment in lieu of notice. However, if there are no specifications on these points, the early termination of a fixed term agreement by an employer can be considered wrongful dismissal. A dismissed employee in this case will likely be awarded compensation for the remainder of their contract. The ramifications for the employer can be significant.

Can you be fired for one act of misconduct? The courts say: Maybe!

Employment lawyers receive calls from employees who have been fired for "cause" or from employers that think they have "cause" to fire an employee.   These calls put us in the position of having to explain the difference between "cause" versus "without cause" termination.   The difference is significant for one essential reason.  In without cause terminations, employers are required to provide reasonable notice or pay in lieu of reasonable notice.  On the other hand, in cause terminations, the employer is not required to provide any notice or pay in lieu of notice.  Given the significant difference, employers will want to take advantage of the opportunity to terminate for cause.    However, an erroneous conclusion about whether cause exists can be costly, and if the dispute ends up in court, the consequences can be severe for the employer found to have wrongly alleged cause.