News & Publications

Occupational Health & Safety

Unproven Complaints Against Employers Could Soon be Released to the Public

Written by on February 07, 2017.

The Toronto Star has recently started a legal challenge that, if successful, may result in human rights, occupational health and safety, and other complaints made against employers being made public, despite the fact that those allegations are unproven. Most hearings today are not handled by the courts but are instead administered by a collection of boards and tribunals established by the province of Ontario. These agencies were created in order to reduce the number of cases heard by the cour...

Honesty is the Best Policy: Deceitful Employers Jailed for Occupational Health and Safety Act Violations

Written by on December 01, 2016.

As it turns out, the Ontario Court of Justice is as friendly to liars as the Ministry of Labour is to employers who don’t comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”). That is, not friendly at all. While most employers are mindful of the hefty fines they can receive for OHSA violations, recent court decisions remind us that jail time is also a real possible consequence. Just last month, the owner of A.B. Clothier Roofing, a roofing company based in Dorchester, Ontario, wa...

New Code of Practice for Workplace Harassment Provisions of OHSA

Written by on September 02, 2016.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has now issued a Code of Practice containing direction with respect to its expectations for the implementation of Bill 132, which amends the workplace harassment provisions of the Occupational Health & Safety Act (“OHSA”).  However, a few remaining “grey areas” are bound to cause headaches for employers when the changes come into effect September 8, 2016.  For a discussion of the changes themselves, you may want to review my earlier blog on Bill 132. ...

The Virtual Office: Working From Home Considerations

Written by on July 14, 2016.

With the advancement of technology, employers looking to cut overhead costs, and family and lifestyle accommodations growing, working from home is becoming more and more common. However, there are some considerations that must be explored before such practices are approved. Policies If employers are considering engaging in a telecommuting arrangement, a clear policy should set out the expectations of the employer in terms of: hours of work per day or week how to monitor work product and ...

“MEAN GIRLS”: Bill 132 and the OHSA

Written by on June 29, 2016.

It has been six years since Bill 168 amended Ontario’s Occupational Health & Safety Act to require employers to take steps to prevent and to deal with bullying and harassment in the workplace.  Since that time, we have come to realize that there were gaps – some would say flaws – in the legislation which reduced its impact.  Those gaps are now being addressed by  Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harass...

Proposed Changes to the OHSA: The more things change, the more they stay the same?

Written by on December 02, 2015.

Laws intended to change social behaviour are sometimes referred to as “social engineering” legislation.  The obvious example is the Human Rights Code, which prohibits discrimination on protected grounds and requires employers to accommodate many of the personal challenges employees face. Some employers feel governments have gone too far – that they are being legislated and regulated well beyond any reasonable level.  The latest example, they say, is the Ontario government’s proposed Se...

New SCC Decision Finds Paid Administrative Suspensions Can Trigger Constructive Dismissals

Written by on July 08, 2015.

Most employers are familiar with the most common changes to employment contracts that can trigger a constructive dismissal: changing pay, hours, demotions, duties, work location, etc. However, in the March 2015 decision of Potter v. New Brunswick Legal Aid Services Commission, the Supreme Court of Canada overturned two lower court decisions, finding that an 8-week paid administrative suspension constituted sufficient grounds to declare the employment relationship constructively dismissed. The ...

New ESA Poster Requirements for Ontario Employers

Written by on May 04, 2015.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has just released its new version (6.0) of the Employment Standards Poster entitled "Employment Standards in Ontario". Ontario employers must immediately post this new poster in each of its workplaces in a location likely to come to the attention of employees.   It must be displayed in English.  If the majority of the workplace speaks a language other than English and the Ministry has published a version of the poster in that other language, a copy of the tra...

Ontario Court Confirms Workplace Violence Not Automatically Cause for Termination in All Cases

Written by on January 07, 2015.

Since amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act introduced by Bill 168 imposed new obligations to proactively address workplace harassment and violence issues, employers have sometimes been tempted to approach all instances of workplace harassing or violent conduct by an employee as warranting summary dismissal without notice or pay in lieu of notice. These decisions are often made as part of a “zero-tolerance” policy towards workplace violence. Since amendments to the Occupati...

Failing to Address Workplace Health and Safety Concerns Can be Costly for Employers

Written by on August 08, 2014.

Ensuring workplace health and safety is always an important priority for employers, and is even more so now that Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (the “OHSA”) places obligations on employers with respect to workplace violence and harassment. As a recent case demonstrates, employers should be diligent regarding the development and implementation of their workplace harassment policies, and in responding to employee concerns regarding those policies. The Moneta Marketing Case...