On December 8, 2017, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) released a report entitled, “Taking the pulse: People’s opinions on human rights in Ontario”. The report examined the results of a public opinion survey of 1,501 people aged 18 and older. The survey revealed that discrimination mainly occurs at work, and that discrimination remains grossly underreported. The Commission’s report serves as a timely reminder of the obligations of employers in the human rights context.
The Ontario Court of Appeal recently ruled that an employer cannot rely on a severability clause in an employment contract to sever the invalid portion of a termination clause and allow the remaining portion of the termination clause to remain in force.
Ontario’s Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, received Royal Assent on November 27, 2017. Bill 148 has introduced a number of major amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000, as well as to other employment-related legislation.
Recently, the highly publicized sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein have led to a public dialogue about sexual harassment and sexual assault. In the employment context, these recent events serve as a reminder for employers of the prevalence of sexual harassment and the importance of taking reports of sexual harassment seriously. Particularly with the holiday party season fast approaching, it is important that employers know their legal obligations and have the appropriate measures in place to protect employees from workplace sexual harassment.
The Ontario legislature’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs has recently completed its review of Bill 148. This review resulted in a number of significant changes to the bill, which may be incorporated into provincial labour once the bill is passed into law.
In a recent decision, the Supreme Court of Canada has provided guidance to employers on the exercise of management rights under a collective agreement. In short, management rights must be exercised reasonably, and in a manner that is consistent with the collective agreement. A workplace rule will be permissible if it strikes a reasonable balance between management and employee interests.
The Court of Appeal of Alberta recently reiterated that random drug and alcohol testing may be justifiable in circumstances where there are specific safety risks, such as a general problem of substance abuse within a workplace. Further, the Court clarified that decision makers are not necessarily limited, in assessing whether a general problem of substance abuse exists within a workplace, to whether there is evidence of such a problem specific to bargaining unit employees
According to a recent decision of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, employers may provide preferential treatment to employees with disabilities who have active Workplace Safety and Insurance Board claims, as opposed to employees with disabilities that did not arise out of their employment
A recent private member’s bill has proposed the addition of immigration status, genetic characteristics, police records and social condition as prohibited grounds in the Ontario Human Rights Code
The planned federal accessibility legislation is expected to regulate federally regulated workplaces, while providing a model that could potentially be followed by provinces still lacking a provincially-enacted accessibility statute