Courts should discourage employers from suing employees for
making safety complaints to the Ministry of Labour, an Ontario
Small Claims Court deputy judge has stated.
An employee, who worked for an electrical contractor that did
work in schools, complained to the MOL that electrical panels
in certain schools had been "wired incorrectly".
He saw it as a safety concern. An MOL inspector
investigated and found no safety concerns.
The employee was eventually fired, and he sued in the Small
Claims Court for wrongful dismissal. The employer
counterclaimed against him for allegedly filing a "false"
safety complaint with the Ministry of Labour, costing the employer
money to deal with the fallout from the MOL investigation.
In dismissing the employer's counterclaim, the deputy judge
"Moreover, I take judicial notice of the fact that the
Ministry of Labour Health and Safety Contact Centre is set up by
the province to permit reporting of, among other things, unsafe
working conditions. It would be the worst kind of public policy to
encourage people to report unsafe working conditions and then hold
them liable in tort if it is determined that the conditions do not
fall below the safety standards applied by the Ministry. Reporting
to a government safety authority what is honestly believed by the
reporter to be unsafe working conditions should enjoy a qualified
immunity from tort liability except in cases of total fabrication
or perhaps completely unreasonable opinions about safety. No such
immunity is required in this case to defend against the
Defendant's Claim however, because all the grounds of liability
pleaded by the Defendant require that the report be
Further, the employer had not proven any damages. The
employer's claim for damages for hours spent by its employees
dealing with the MOL after the complaint was rejected, with the
deputy judge calling one piece of the employer's evidence
regarding its damages, "exaggerated, fanciful, if not
Dentons is a global firm driven to provide you with the
competitive edge in an increasingly complex and interconnected
marketplace. We were formed by the March 2013 combination of
international law firm Salans LLP, Canadian law firm Fraser Milner
Casgrain LLP (FMC) and international law firm SNR Denton.
Dentons is built on the solid foundations of three highly
regarded law firms. Each built its outstanding reputation and
valued clientele by responding to the local, regional and national
needs of a broad spectrum of clients of all sizes –
individuals; entrepreneurs; small businesses and start-ups; local,
regional and national governments and government agencies; and
mid-sized and larger private and public corporations, including
international and global entities.
Now clients benefit from more than 2,500 lawyers and
professionals in 79 locations in 52 countries across Africa, Asia
Pacific, Canada, Central Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Russia and
the CIS, the UK and the US who are committed to challenging the
status quo to offer creative, actionable business and legal
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances. Specific Questions relating to
this article should be addressed directly to the author.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
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.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).