Alberta employers should heed a recent appeal decision in which
an employer was held liable for damage caused by an employee while
driving a company vehicle – even though he was told not to
The employee worked for a roofing company. He was working on a
residential roof. The employer gave him access to a company truck
and trailer which were parked at the site, but only to access
supplies and to keep warm. The employer told him not to drive the
The employee disobeyed the instructions and drove the truck and
got into an accident.
Section 187(2) of the Alberta Traffic Safety Act makes
the owner of a vehicle liable if, at the time of the accident, the
driver was in "possession" of the motor vehicle with the
consent of the owner.
The appeal court decided that even though the employee did not
have permission to drive the truck, he did have permission
to use the truck for supplies and to keep warm. Thus, he was
"in possession of" the truck, and the employer was liable
for any damages caused by him in the accident. As long as the
employee had consent to be in possession of the truck, which he
did, the employer was liable.
In light of this decision, employers in Alberta – and
across Canada – should review their policies on the use and
"possession" of company vehicles. Especially where the
employee does not have enough assets to satisfy a court judgment,
plaintiff lawyers may seek to have the employer also declared
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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