Surprisingly, name tag policies have become the subject of
recent litigation and labour board decisions on the topic have been
hitting the news. However, the resulting
litigation still leaves room for debate. In the recent decision of
North Health Region v Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local
5111, an arbitration board in Saskatchewan held that the
policy was an impermissible intrusion on employee privacy. However,
in a previous
decision of the Ontario Labour Relations Board, displaying last
names on police officer badges was deemed to be acceptable.
Why were name tags allowed in one instance but not another? One
of the key differences the arbitration board in Prairie
North described was that the Police Chief in Toronto performed
a risk assessment before implementing the policy, which was not
done in the case of the hospital workers. Moreover, police work is
an inherently risky profession, unlike health care workers.
These decisions show that name tag policies can have complex
intersections with a variety of laws, from health and safety to
consumer privacy. Before implementing a new name tag policy,
employers should review the applicable provincial and federal laws
regarding privacy, labour, and health and safety. The difference
between the healthcare worker's decision in Saskatchewan and
the police decision in Ontario also illustrates the importance of
making evidence-based decisions before implementing new
Written with the assistance of Kira Misiewicz, articling
Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP
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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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