This is as true at work as it is in life, except that in workplace law there is always an exception. Here is a sampling of some of the questions readers of this column frequently ask and the answers that I often provide. Should I respond to a poor performance appraisal? I am told that non-competes will never be enforced? Can I be fired while I am on sick leave? I should have received a promotion. I signed an independent contractor agreement but I am truly an employee.Read More
There is a new war being waged in Canadian workplace law, and its battleground is not even a courtroom. This conflict unfolds at doctors’ offices when employees claim that they are too sick to work and employers stubbornly disagree. The result is usually a letter-writing war between medical experts, insurance claims examiners and eventually the lawyers.
Employees are entitled to “accommodation” for illnesses and disabilities (even perceived ones), and employers must take all reasonable steps to comply. Although the law may be clear-cut, the facts are seldom straightforward. A “headache” to one physician may be a chronic illness to another.Read More
In Canadian workplaces today, sexual harassment is defined by a thin yellow line. Sexual innuendo that can easily be seen as harmless flirting to one employee, can just as easily be seen as an invitation to a lawsuit, to another. As sexual harassment is often in the eyes of the beholder, when will an employee’s inappropriate comments cost him his job?Read More
Workplace law never ceases to amaze me — whether employer or employee, one side is always trying to take advantage of the other. Here are some of the more opportunistic questions I was asked this week. Can I fire an employee on maternity leave? Can I fire an employee on disability leave? Can I look for another job while still employed? I work through lunch and my breaks all the time, can I leave work early? My employee claims she worked during her vacation. Must I provide her with extra time off? Overtime – if an employee works late because she is slow at her work, must I pay for that time?Read More
Kevin Johnson was a good worker. He had not been given any warnings or notice that his performance was unsatisfactory. But in the spring of 2009, Johnson noticed he had not been called in for work. His roommate who worked for the same company had been called back but Johnson hadn’t heard a thing.Read More
2011 was the year of the employer as this column was replete with examples of employees wrecking their own cases, often through ignorance of the law, indifference, or worse, poor advice. In light of these multiple failures, here is an offering of my top “dos and don’ts” for employees in 2012.Read More
Most employees cling to beliefs about workplace rights they gleaned from media, friends or researching online. But many of these “perceived” rights often do not exist. Here are some of my favourite misconceptions.Read More
Having just been advised of the less than impressive results of an “employee satisfaction survey” at the National Bank’s branch in Vaughan, Ontario, Adrian Chandran, the senior manager at the branch, was in shock. To Chandran’s dismay, many of his subordinates accused him of making condescending remarks, embarrassing others and behaving like a bully. Some claimed they contemplated seeking legal advice. Chandran asked for the specifics of those complaints so that he could defend himself, but his request was denied.Read More
He is the human resources department’s biggest nightmare and he works at just about every large company across the country. He is the sick employee that may never return to his job. And his workplace legacy just got a lot larger.
Paul Pereira earned a position as a senior employee. But he had a problem that ultimately cost him that job. Pereira, the general manager at a Staples Business Depot in Nanaimo, B.C. suffered from depression and a drug addiction. After stints on the company’s disability insurance plans, Pereira entered a treatment facility for his addiction hoping to return to work once he finished the program.Read More
Seldom will a temporary illness justify dismissal. But what happens when a sick employee may never return to work? Can employers discard employees they view as festering on their disability insurance or must they keep their jobs available for an indefinite period of time? According to a recent Ontario case, employers may have more latitude than you think.Read More