1. Sky's the Limit: No More Cap on Ontario Ministry
of Labour Awards
Until recently, employees had the following options to pursue
claims for unpaid wages: Engage in (potentially costly) litigation
or make a complaint to the Ontario Ministry of Labour and limit the
maximum recovery to $10,000.
However, effective February 20, 2015, there is no more cap on
awards made by the Ministry of Labour. Employees now have the
ability to pursue a full claim for wages as far back as two
This development is undoubtedly employee friendly – a
Ministry of Labour complaint is made and investigated without any
cost to the employee and proceeds significantly faster than
litigation. Without a cap on the amount of an award, employers
should expect to become much more familiar with the Ministry of
Labour complaint process.
2. Don't Procrastinate: It's Time to Comply with
theAccessibility for Ontarians with
Disabilities Act, 2005
Almost all businesses in Ontario have obligations under the
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005
("AODA") and, with a recent report finding that more than
60% of businesses are non-compliant, the media is starting to take
note.1 In addition, while enforcement efforts are
being reduced from previous years, it has been revealed that the
Ontario government plans to conduct 1,200 AODA compliance audits
Businesses found to be non-compliant with the AODA may face
significant fines or penalties and receive negative attention
associated with failing to meet minimum accessibility standards.
With increasingly stringent requirements under the AODA coming into
force over the next several years, it's time to take a look at
the AODA and determine what your business must do to comply.
3. It's Confirmed: Federal Employers Can Terminate
Employees Without Cause
The Canada Labour Code (the "Code") prohibits
"unjust dismissal" of employees. Up until recently, a
prevalent interpretation of the Code has been that, as a result,
federal employees may only be dismissed for just cause and that
they are otherwise entitled to their job. To this end, the Code
provides reinstatement as a remedy for unjust dismissal.
However, the February 25, 2015, decision of the Federal Court of
Appeal ("FCA") in Wilson v. Atomic
Energy,3 has confirmed that the Code does in fact
permit termination of employees without cause.
The FCA clarified that a without cause termination is not
necessarily unjust. Further, it was noted that the Code
specifically sets out a minimum notice period that must be provided
to employees terminated without cause; such a provision would be
meaningless if without cause termination was prohibited by the
It will remain important for employers to carefully consider and
carry out terminations in order to avoid a determination of
"unjust dismissal" for the purposes of the Code. However,
the FCA's ruling makes clear that without cause termination is
available to federal employers of non-unionized employees.
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.
A former teacher at Bodwell High School has learned a valuable lesson from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal— it is not discriminatory for an employer to offer child-related benefits to only employees with children.
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.
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