2014 saw a number of important decisions and legislative changes in the area of labour and employment law. Over the course of the year, CCP blogged these developments and here we provide our “top 10” cases and the most significant legislative changes of the past year with links to the original blogs. Enjoy!!
Top Labour and Employment Cases of 2014
- Hryniak v. Mauldin – The Supreme Court broadened the scope of summary judgment proceedings and provided a substantive roadmap on how courts should interpret and apply the law relating to summary judgments. (See also this related blog on mitigation and summary judgment.)
- R. v. J. R. Contracting Property Services – A supervisor was jailed for 45 days as a result of having been charged and found guilty of failing as a supervisor to take every reasonable precaution to protect a worker under theOccupational Health and Safety Act.
- Atomic Energy of Canada Limited v. Wilson – The Federal Court ruled that a valid employment contract can be used as a shield against a claim of unjust dismissal pursuant to the Canada Labour Code.
- Kelly v. University of British Columbia – In keeping with the trend of rapidly increasing damage awards for human rights violations in the employment context, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal awarded an Applicant nearly $475,000 in damages including an unprecedented $75,000 in damages for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect and over $385,000 in lost wages.
- WSIAT Decision No. 2157/09 – The Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal issued a much-anticipated decision addressing the constitutionality of limits to entitlement for “mental stress” under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997. The Tribunal concluded that subsections 13(4) and (5) of the Act as well as the Traumatic Mental Stress policy of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board infringe the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- Diamantopoulous v. KPMG LLP – The Ontario Superior Court provided substantive guidance on when an employer is entitled to deduct STD and/or LTD benefits from wrongful dismissal notice damage awards.
- Quebec (Commission des norms du travail) v. Asphalte Desjardins Inc. – The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that an employer who receives a notice of resignation from an employee cannot terminate the employment without giving notice of termination or pay in lieu of notice.
- Ostrow v. Abascus Management Corporation Mergers and Acquisitions – The British Columbia Superior Court increased the notice period awarded to an employee on the basis of the employer’s inclusion of a non-compete clause in the employment agreement.
- Miller v. A.B.M. Canada Inc. – The Ontario Superior Court found a seemingly well-drafted termination provision to be void, reminding employers of the care that must be taken when drafting employment contracts and particularly their termination provisions.
- Bhasin v. Hrynew – The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that commercial contract law includes an implied duty of good faith that requires parties to perform their contractual obligations honestly.
- R. v. Metron Construction Corporation – A Company and Director were fined $400,000 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act when the swing stage it supplied collapsed contributing to the deaths of four workers.
Top Legislative Changes of 2014
- Bill 18: Stronger Workplaces for Stronger Economy Act, 2014 received Royal Assent on November 20, 2014, meaning the Ontario legislature passed into law some wide-ranging changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Labour Relations Act, 1995, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, and the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, 2009.
- Bill C-4: Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2 received Royal Assent on December 12, 2013, amending the Canada Labour Code with respect to its Occupational Health and Safety provisions.These amendments came into effect October 31, 2014.
- Family Caregivers Bill-21received Royal Assent on April 29, 2014, amending the Employment Standards Act, 2000 in respect of family caregiver, critically ill child care and crime-related child death or disappearance leaves of absence.
- Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training, Reg. 297/13: The Ministry of Labour released the Training Regulation in December 2013, requiring all training to have been in place in Ontario workplaces as of July 1, 2014.
- Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation came into force on July 1, 2014, instituting strict compliance measures and hefty penalties for violators.
- Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005: Dependant on the size of an employer’s organization, the compliance dates for various requirements under AODA came to pass in 2014.
- Bill 56: An Act to require the establishment of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan was introduced on December 8, 2014. The stated objective of Bill 56 is to provide a further mandatory provincial retirement plan to address a perceived inability of many Ontarians to adequately prepare to maintain their standard of living when they retire.