Task Force on Cannabis Legalization Releases Final Recommendations

On December 13, 2016, the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation – the nine-member committee mandated by the Federal Government to advise on the design of a new legislative and regulatory framework for legal access to cannabis in Canada- made public its final report on the legalization of recreational cannabis. Review the report in its entirety here.

cannabis

Continue reading “Task Force on Cannabis Legalization Releases Final Recommendations”

Bartering and Bitcoins: The Legality of Alternative Wage Payments

Trading services is as old as commerce itself, but in a modern economy such as Canada it has largely faded away with the rise of currencies, central governments and tax codes. That being said, while cliches of exchanging labour for a bed and a meal may no longer be commonplace, alternative payment models continue to exist. A simple example could include a pizzeria paying a cook with a large pepperoni thin crust in exchange for staying an hour late.

will-work-for-food Continue reading “Bartering and Bitcoins: The Legality of Alternative Wage Payments”

Can NAFTA Address Your Company’s Labour Shortage?

NAFTA Immage (00652343xD7EDD)

Many Canadian companies face ongoing labour shortages in a variety of positions. The frustration of their recruiters and HR professionals is palpable, for despite offering above average wages, group benefits and other perquisites of employment, finding quality personnel to fill vacancies is harder than ever for some professions. Continue reading “Can NAFTA Address Your Company’s Labour Shortage?”

BC to Protect Transgendered People under Human Rights Code

Transgender flag (00630711xD7EDD)

On July 25, 2016, the British Columbia government passed the first reading of Bill 27, or the Human Rights Code Amendment Act.

If the Bill passes into law (which it is widely expected to do), it will amend the Human Rights Code to add “gender identity or expression” to provisions prohibiting discrimination in :

  • Publications (s.7);
  • Accommodation, service and facility (s.8);
  • Purchase of property (s. 9);
  • Tenancy (s.10);
  • Employment advertisements (s. 11);
  • Employment (s. 13); and
  • Membership in unions or associations (s. 14).

Continue reading “BC to Protect Transgendered People under Human Rights Code”

Independent Contractor Assessment Form

While there are often many benefits to companies engaging contractors instead of hiring employees, businesses must also be careful not to characterize an employment relationship as something it is not. The following are common indicators of a “true” contractor relationship, and in ideal circumstances, most or all of these items will be present. Not all of these items are necessarily required in order to establish a contractor relationship, nor does this list represent an exhaustive summary of all possible factors suggestive of a contractor arrangement.

This list is designed to be used by organizations to assess the health of their contractor relationships. If an organization is checking more often than not in the ‘no’ column, it may be advisable to speak with an employment lawyer and consider ways to strengthen their contractor’s status.

Continue reading “Independent Contractor Assessment Form”

Non-Union Federal Employees Score Historic Win in Supreme Court Case

In what will no doubt be one of the most impactful employment law cases of the year, the Supreme Court of Canada in Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada, 2016 SCC 29 has found that federally regulated employers cannot, absent economic reasons, terminate a non-unionized employee without just cause. The decision appears to have settled a debate that has been ongoing for nearly 40 years as to whether the “unjust dismissal” provisions of the Canada Labour Code preclude an employer from terminating an employee, even if common law severance is provided. Continue reading “Non-Union Federal Employees Score Historic Win in Supreme Court Case”

Making a Manager

I have defended many companies before the Employment Standards Branch (“ESB”), and without fail, one of the most frustrating (and potentially costly) complaints for business owners is when a manager makes a claim for overtime wages.

One of the primary reasons for this frustration is because there is often a disconnect between an employer’s idea of a manager and the definition of manager under the Employment Standards Act. As many employers have learned the hard way, just because someone is referred to as “kitchen manager” or “operations manager” does not necessarily mean that they will satisfy the ESB’s analysis.

manager photo (00617273xD7EDD)
There’s more to it than just a title…

Continue reading “Making a Manager”

When Workplace Discrimination is Not Illegal: Schrenk v. British Columbia

The British Columbia Human Rights Code mandates the BC Human Rights Tribunal to prevent and provide redress to discrimination in areas such as tenancy, services and employment. In recognition of its important public purpose, this Code has long attracted a large and liberal interpretation of its mandate.

No where is this “large and liberal” interpretation of the law more evident than in the employment context, where an “employer” has been held to include at times supervisors, contractors, unions, trade groups, significant customers or any other organization that occupies a position of power and can dictate conditions of employment. Continue reading “When Workplace Discrimination is Not Illegal: Schrenk v. British Columbia”

Moving On Following Termination: The Duty to Mitigate

Losing a job can be one of the most traumatic events that a person may experience in the course of one’s life, sometimes even being on par with a family breakdown or the loss of a loved one. That’s because we all know that work is more than just a “contract”, and it’s certainly more than a paycheck. Our co-workers are not just colleagues, they are friends, collaborators and mentors.  Many people will spend more time awake at the office than they will with their family. In many ways, work defines who we are, as our Supreme Court once eloquently stated nearly 30 years ago:

Work is now considered one of the most fundamental aspects in a person’s life, providing the individual with a means of financial support and, as importantly, a contributory role in society. A person’s employment is an essential component of his or her sense of identity, self-worth and emotional well-being.

Continue reading “Moving On Following Termination: The Duty to Mitigate”

Using Summary Trials in a Wrongful Dismissal Action

The high costs of litigation and the long delays to have a matter heard in court have raised serious concerns with respect to access to justice in Canada. This challenge can be felt particularly acutely with somebody who has recently been wrongfully dismissed from their employment. While the common law may tell us that a terminated employee may be entitled to receive several more months compensation for their termination than what their employer is offering, often the high cost of litigation require the worker to accept less than they deserve.

But what if someone can have their day in court without the time and expense of trial and discoveries? In many wrongful dismissal cases, a summary judgment application may provide just that. Continue reading “Using Summary Trials in a Wrongful Dismissal Action”