Queen's University IRC

Labour/Employment Law

Lessons Learned

The Performance Appraisal Process: Lessons Learned

Just as leadership styles and organizational work have evolved, so have perspectives on performance evaluation. Traditional performance evaluation is hierarchical, control-oriented, and focused on individual ranking and grading. Present-day performance evaluation is relational, facilitative, and focused on development and problem-solving (Leadership, R. Lussier, et al). In Ontario, teacher performance appraisal requirements and processes are legislated. While the legislation is founded on a more traditional “three strikes you are out” mandate, the philosophy and practices are more contemporary.

Fireable Offences Without Defences

Fireable Offences Without Defences

Termination for ‘just cause’ (and without notice) is often described as the capital punishment of employment law.  Consequently, employers face a significant burden when trying to prove just cause at law. Arguing just cause for dismissal may be difficult, but not impossible, especially in circumstances involving dishonesty or lack of trust. Nevertheless, employers should always exercise caution when making just cause allegations, because a legally unsubstantiated just cause termination can be costly. If an arbitrator overturns an employer’s termination decision in a unionized environment, this can result in a decision that reinstates that grievor and provides him or her with significant back pay.

Workplace Harassment After #MeToo

Workplace Harassment After #MeToo

The #metoo movement has empowered many women who were the victims of unjust behaviour to come forward, although the movement has its own inequities by persecuting and often impacting the livelihood of the accused without due process, or any process whatsoever. This article will explore the complex considerations regarding sexual harassment in Canadian workplaces, consider the roles and obligations of all parties involved, and review the importance of investigations and due process in relation to workplace sexual harassment complaints. 

Accommodating Mental Illness in the Workplace

Invisible Barriers: Accommodating Mental Illness in the Workplace

Mental illness is a leading cause of disability in Canada. In fact, at least 500,000 employed Canadians are not able to work due to mental health problems in any given week. Understanding and accommodating mental illness is an evolving area that requires a flexible approach. This article will discuss the key legal requirements and interesting related case-law related to workplace mental health issues.

Our Continuing Need to Teach

Human Rights and Human Wrongs: Our Continuing Need to Teach

Francine had been disciplined before. She had been suspended for 3 days, for an angry outburst that she had in the shipping department. But this time was worse. Francine was in the cafeteria, finishing her break. Three co-workers sat down at the same table, and within minutes she began yelling and swearing at them. One of them began talking to her, trying to quiet her down. She threw her cup of tea in his face, and then left the room. Francine was terminated. The letter of termination cited the company anti-violence and harassment policies.

Costly Conduct

Workplace Bullying and Harassment: Costly Conduct

As media scrutiny over schoolyard and cyberbullying pervade the news, allegations of workplace harassment and bullying are on the rise. While the popularization of the terms “bullying” and “harassment” has both educated and empowered employees to assert the right to a respectful workplace, it has conversely sometimes resulted in overuse of the terms and meritless complaints in relation to reasonable management measures. Employers are left with the difficult task of managing all competing interests to ensure a safe, respectful and productive work environment.

The changing landscape of collective bargaining after Ontario (A.G.) v. Fraser

Labour Relations in Canada: The Changing Landscape of Collective Bargaining after Ontario (A.G.) v. Fraser

Following the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) in Ontario (A.G.) v. Fraser (Fraser), there has, predictably, been widespread speculation as to its eventual effect on the labour relations landscape in Canada.  A departure from other recent SCC case law, Fraser found that there was no constitutional guarantee for any specific form of labour relations or collective bargaining regime.  Even if the decision was significant in shaping Canada’s constitutional framework for collective bargaining, any tangible effect on labour policy has yet specifically to materialize

Balancing Employee Privacy Interests with Workplace Safety

Random Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace

In modern society, safety and privacy interests frequently seem to conflict, particularly in the workplace. Random drug and alcohol testing is one instance when these interests may conflict. Employers are obligated under occupational safety legislation to provide a safe workplace for employees. The risk of workplace accidents increases if employees are working under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

A legal review

Family Status Accommodations:

This paper canvasses the existing legislation in respect of “family status” accommodation obligations and provides an overview of a number of recent cases that shed some light on how “family status” accommodation situations are playing out in Canadian workplaces.

Handling Labour Relations Disasters

Handling Labour Relations Disasters

A female employee was involved in a romantic relationship with a male member of the team. He was married. She had enough. The romance ended. He was unable to accept the end of the relationship. He called her repeatedly, at home and at work. He openly harassed her. He distributed photos of her.  

Managing Mental Health in the Workplace

Managing Mental Health in the Workplace

Understanding and complying with the employer's legal duty to accommodate disabled employees is one of the biggest challenges facing labour relations professionals today. This is particularly so in the case of mental health issues. The statistics are telling. It has been reported that one in six Canadians will suffer from mental illness at one point in their lives and that one out of every four to five employees is affected by mental health issues every year.

Accommodating Disability in the wake of Keays v. Honda Canada

Employers may be relieved now that the Supreme Court of Canada has reversed steep punitive damages in a high-profile wrongful dismissal case involving a disabled worker. But accommodating the needs of employees who have disabilities – in particular depression – is not getting any easier, says Queen’s IRC Facilitator Anthony Griffin. Griffin is counsel for …

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New Labour Law Rule: Think Global, Act Local

In a case that pitted B.C. health unions against contentious labour legislation, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled last fall that collective bargaining is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The decision significantly changes the lives of many Canadian labour law practitioners and policy-makers, says Kevin Banks, assistant professor in Queen’s University Faculty …

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The Visible Minority Experience of Marginalization in the Canadian Labour Force – A Proposal to the Ontario Government to Reintroduce Employment Equity Legislation in Ontario

Visible minorities still face barriers that impede their success in the workforce. The most powerful force preventing them from entering the labour market and climbing the corporate ladder is systemic discrimination. This paper seeks to shed some light on the damaging effects of systemic discrimination through the eyes of visible minorities. It contends that the …

The Visible Minority Experience of Marginalization in the Canadian Labour Force – A Proposal to the Ontario Government to Reintroduce Employment Equity Legislation in Ontario Read More »

Overview of Labour Law in Canada

George Adams presented this paper at the 1994 US-Mexico-Canada Conference on Labour Law and Industrial Relations in Washington, DC. According to Adams, Canada's participation in the North American Agreement on Labour Cooperation is important because it encourages us to explore our country's labour laws at both the federal and provincial levels so that we are better equipped to confront the issues we jointly face in a global economic environment.
 

Job Evaluation: A Quest for Gender Neutrality

The long debated issue of gender bias in job evaluation systems has become even more important with the advent of pay equity legislation in Ontario. This statute requires the use of a gender-neutral job comparison system to identify and rectify wage discrimination in female-dominated jobs. Unfortunately, this legislation provides very little guidance as to what is meant by a gender-neutral job comparison system. This paper identifies the ingredients of a gender-neutral comparison system.

Developments in Industrial Relations and Human Resource Practices in Canada: An Update from the 1980s

This study was undertaken as part of the Structural Change in Canadian Industrial Relations project at the Centre for Industrial Relations, University of Toronto. The Canadian industrial relations system has followed a course of incremental change and adjustment over the past decade that leaves intact the basic institutional framework and relationships among labor, business, and government. Thus, the system, while changing in ways that are similar to employment relations in other industrial nations, has not undergone any dramatic transformation.

Freedom of Religion in the Workplace: Legislative Protection

Current Human Rights legislation protects workers from discrimination on a number of grounds including religion. This paper looks at the history of legislation prohibiting discrimination and reviews current legislation to determine how freedom of religion is protected in the workplace. Precedents from discrimination cases are outlined to give an indication of how cases are currently being settled. Finally, the paper looks at cases concerning freedom of religion in the workplace over the past fifteen years to assess whether the legislation is in use and is effective.

Unions and Workplace Smoking Policy

Do you remember when workers could smoke in the workplace? This article was written in 1992, at a time when concern over environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) was being identified as a leading occupational health hazard and policy makers were instituting smoking restrictions and bans in workplaces.

Labour Law Reform: Radical Departure or Natural Evolution?

The current proposals to amend Ontario's collective bargaining laws have given rise to a loud, and frequently intemperate, debate that has not only divided Ontario's labour relations community but has now moved to the centre of Ontario's political stage. Underlying this debate is a realignment of the relative political influence of business and labour that came with the NDP's election victory in the fall of 1990.

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