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Ottawa Employment, Elder and Municipal Law Blog

Ontario couples facing elder abuse charges

The constant screams of an elderly woman finally led police to arrest a couple in connection with those screams. The Ontario couple who were suspected of elder abuse have been charged with failing to provide the necessities of life to a person in their care. Residents of Thorold, they are themselves elderly -- the accused man being 87 and his wife, 70. 

A neighbour initially alerted police to the alleged screams coming from the home, but she was told there was nothing that could be done. The woman's curiosity got the best of her, and she peaked through a window to see an elderly woman on a bloodied mattress in what she called frightening circumstances. Cops took the case seriously when another resident asked them to conduct a welfare check at the home.

Municipal law: Adios to the Ontario Municipal Board

A vehicle for obtaining public input on municipal decisions will soon be closing its doors. The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) has taken a lot of criticism over the years, from public and municipal law makers alike. It has been chastised for not being accessible enough and favouring developers by overruling decisions made by local municipal councils. The OMB will be replaced by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).

What the LPAT intends on doing is seeing if appeals of any plans adhere to local guidelines. Simply put, if they do, decisions will be upheld; if they don't, they will head back to council tables for review and reconsideration. But that doesn't sit well with some developers who have already expressed concerns over the intended overhaul.

Employee rights: Teen gets thousands in sexual harassment case

A teen who said she experienced sexual harassment at the hands of her boss has been awarded $75,000 by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. The then 15-year-old intern accepted an internship at an Ontario tattoo parlour where she said her employee rights were violated and where she was the victim of sexual harassment by her boss, the owner of the shop who also happened to be the husband of her mother's best friend. The woman, who is now 19, said her boss began to make sexual comments while she was in the shop and allegedly asked her questions of a sexual nature that made her feel extremely uncomfortable.

The woman also said her boss also offered her a free tattoo in exchange for sexual favours and that his comments eventually turned into sexual assault. The man, who pleaded guilty to sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching, had a charge of sexual assault stayed. He spent a couple months in jail and was granted probation. 

Elder law: Ontario seniors most vulnerable to fraud schemes

No one likes to be taken in by scheming and lies. And yet, that is what some seniors go through when trusting individuals who use fraud for their own financial benefits. Elder law in Ontario has rules in place that safeguard seniors from fraudulent schemes, yet there are still times when those who belong to this vulnerable sector of society get caught up in a fraudster's web of lies. 

There are some types of popular schemes that are used against seniors. They include bogus telephone calls where the person on the other end of the line says he or she is a relative -- usually a grandchild -- and is in trouble and needs money as soon as possible. Or they could be criminals pretending to solicit for charity or asking for verification of credit card numbers or social insurance numbers. And when seniors are lonely, they could be posing a people who have been targeted online for a romance scheme.

Employee rights: How to handle threats on the job

Everyone has the right to go to work each day without possibly being harmed or threatened. When it comes to employee rights in the workplace in Ontario, threats doesn't just include physical harm, but also the possibility of it. It also includes domestic violence situations since violence at home can also rear its ugly head in a workplace environment should a combative spouse show up at a job place. Violence can also include a customer who physically acts out or threatens an employee.

When it comes to any violent situation, or the chance of it, it is incumbent upon the employer to try to help the employee. Policies must be in place on the job to help employees when they're threatened or feel unsafe. An all-encompassing plan dealing with workplace violence answers many questions about the work environment and also provides employee training on safety measures against workplace violence.

New cases of elder abuse in Ottawa nursing homes

A comprehensive series of investigative articles last year by the Ottawa Citizen showed rampant cases of abuse in most of the city's nursing homes -- some resulting in death. It seems not much has changed at these homes in 2018. The newspaper in Ontario's capital had a look at reports from the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care and has found that 16 of the city's 27 long-term care facilities have received infractions regarding elder abuse in the first few months of 2018.

The 83 infractions run the gamut -- from those less serious like incomplete record keeping to those which are severe, like residents abusing other residents. There were 16 cases of abuse reported -- four in which residents' care was cited prior to the residents' deaths. Many incidents of abuse allegedly go unreported, so accurate documentation is often difficult to come by. In one of these facilities, one particular resident was referred to as having sexually abused other residents numerous times, but ministry reports refer only to residents by a number due to privacy issues. 

Estate beneficiary advice: The executor role not easy

There are instances when an executor of a will is also a beneficiary of the will. The duties of an executor in Ontario aren't for the faint of heart. There are many things associated with the task and having some estate beneficiary advice to move forward may help the process. When the executor is the adult child of the testator -- or the one who has written the will -- it can be doubly stressful since there may be other family members to appease as well.

There is no sugar-coating it. An executor's duties can be a chore, and it is sometimes a job in itself and for an executor who is also grieving. It can be a lot to handle.  The person so named should be prepared to invest some time in accomplishing all the tasks and would do well to keep copious and complete records of all transactions. With new estate rules in Ontario, executors must now complete a seven-page Estate Information Return that asks for many details regarding taxes, bank accounts and assets.

Employee rights: Can a former employee sue a past employer?

There are certain instances when employees could launch litigation against their former employers. When it comes to employee rights in Ontario, if an employee was fired he or she may have grounds to sue -- unless the employee was a union member. Union members should talk to a union steward or have a look at the collective agreement.

If the reason for the lawsuit is in regard to wages, an employee must either sue in a court of law or approach the Ontario Ministry of Labour (OML) with an employment standards claim. He or she can't do both. Small Claims Court may be an option if an employee is trying to recoup $25,000 or less from a past employer, whereas if it is more than that, the case could be headed to Superior Court.

Help is available for the fight against wrongful termination

The last thing an Ontario worker wants is to be dismissed from his or her employment. Most people are entirely reliant on their salaries, and the prospect of not earning an income while seeking a new job could cause severe anxiety. However, there are steps that can be taken when there is evidence of wrongful termination.

Under the Employment Standards Act, employers must give employees fair warning, and only just cause is a valid reason for instant dismissal. That is meant to cover an inexcusable act such as embezzlement, fraud or similar circumstances. However, the employer must prove such misconduct. Otherwise, the norm is to give adequate notice or severance pay equal to one month's income for every year in the company's employ.

What to look for before signing employment contracts

Employers often want their employees to sign a contract. But before doing so, employees might be wise to read everything contained in the contract, including the fine print. No employees in Ontario should ever feel pressured into signing any documents presented to them by employers and in fact, they have every right to get a lawyer to look over any employment contracts if they so choose.

An employment contract should include when a job begins and when it ends. The language should indicate if the employee is terminated that it is for just cause. In terms of a pay rate -- it should be clearly defined in the contract. It should spell out if the employee could qualify for any bonuses and how that would play out. Benefits should also be stated, if there are any.