An employer that failed to attend a safety-reprisal hearing has
been ordered to pay two employees damages of more than
The employees filed an application with the Ontario Labour
Relations Board claiming that their dismissal was a reprisal under
the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The employer
failed to attend the hearing.
The OLRB noted that subs. 50(5) of the OHSA places the burden of
proof on the employer, in safety-reprisal cases, to show that the
employer had not retaliated against the employee for raising safety
concerns. Because the employer failed to attend the hearing,
it had not discharged that burden of proof, and was deemed to have
accepted all of the allegations in the employees' reprisal
One of the employees had been unemployed, after her dismissal,
for 30 weeks. She was awarded 30 weeks' wages as
damages. The other employee was pregnant when dismissed, and
was entitled to back pay for the four weeks before her
Employment Insurance maternity/parental benefits began.
The OLRB also awarded both employees damages in the amount
of four weeks' wages for the "loss of
employment" plus $1,500.00 each for "mental
distress". The damages totaled $25,848.00.
This case illustrates what already appears self-evident:
employers faced with safety-reprisal complaints under the OHSA must
respond and participate in the hearing, or else they will be deemed
to have admitted the employee's allegations – and will be
liable for damages.
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On Thursday, September 22, 2016, Dentons hosted a panel discussion about the management of liabilities and risks associated with environmental crises, including potential liabilities for directors and officers and provided insight into risk and liability techniques associated with environmental crisis management.
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