15th Jul 2013
Despite the existence of privacy legislation, privacy-based regulatory bodies, privacy principles and even privacy-based torts (wrongful acts that lead to damages) there is still no clear “right” to privacy for many workers.
This is because most privacy laws are not absolute. They have exceptions and exemptions – or simply don’t apply to the vast majority of employees.
How then does this legal landscape practically affect the rights of Canadian employers and their employees? more
25th Nov 2012
“RIM expects that its employees conduct themselves in a manner reflective of our strong principles and standards of business behaviour.” So read the press statement released by Research In Motion after last week’s news story about two of its (now former) high-flying executives who were fired for excessive drinking on an Air Canada flight. Although the story initially raised eyebrows because the plane was diverted and forced to land due to their conduct, it also poses an interesting workplace law issue because the employees were fired by RIM for their conduct – even though it occurred away from the workplace. more
18th Nov 2012
Must you turn over your Facebook password to a potential employer? This will be the question faced by Canadian employees as this practice gains popularity in the United States and is taking a foothold here.
For starters, employers have for some time been reviewing potential employees’ Facebook profiles to glean information about their behaviour. No surprise there since pictures do not lie, people do. There is only so much that can be learned during an interview and from personal references that are seldom impartial. However, online profiles often reveal very genuine information about an individual’s behaviour and predispositions, and can be linked to what type of employee they will ultimately become. more
10th Nov 2012
Shortly after obtaining her real estate license, Marilyn Patterson found herself in a pickle. Patterson, a Customer Service Supervisor for the Bank of Nova Scotia in Pitt Meadows, BC, was summoned to a meeting and told that her work as a realtor may conflict with her employment at the Bank.
Patterson saw matters differently. She had previously performed other part-time work outside of the Bank and without any objection. Further, other employees at her branch had second or third jobs, which the Bank did not oppose.
When it came to her work as a part-time realtor, however, the Bank decided to take a stand arguing that by recommending financial services and products at the Bank, Patterson could be in a “potential” conflict with her work in real estate. Patterson was told to abandon her work as a realtor otherwise she would be fired. more
One individual’s story, related below, should make people pause before hiring their next lawyer. Always enquire what percentage of a lawyer’s time is spent practicing in the area he or she is needed for – so that you do not pay for their education. more
8th Oct 2012
Controlling Internet misuse at work was a problem for employers a decade ago. Today, however, it is controlling what employees write and post on their online social media profiles. This is because instead of simply surfing the Web at work, employees now spend much of their time tweeting, surfing Facebook or blogging. And, given the potential for social media content to go viral, negative comments on Twitter, Facebook and blogs can be far more destructive. more
One of my very first clients when I was a rookie lawyer asked me a question that I will never forget: “Can I be fired for what I do when away from work?” He had just been fired, and his employer felt there was a very good reason. He and a group of friends from work had filmed themselves acting out a scene from a Hollywood movie. This in itself was not the problem – it was that they filmed themselves while still dressed in their uniforms from work. When their employer found the video posted online (for everyone to download and see), they were all fired.
At the time, I thought that their employer was surely mistaken, but I quickly learned that employees can be disciplined for what they do when away from work. Employers have the technological means, and often the inclination, to monitor behaviour that occurs away from the job. And when they believe that off-duty behaviour poses a problem to their own interests, employees should not be surprised when it follows them back to their desk. more
2nd Oct 2012
If I’ve filed for bankruptcy, do I have to disclose this to a prospective employer? Could they legally do a search that would let them find that out? Does this limit my career choices? Will I be unable to get a job where I handle money (banking, real estate)? How might this fact limit me in my job search? Is there anything I can do to mitigate this fact? more
30th Sep 2012
Employees often author their own workplace misfortunes. Few take advantage of laws that are construed in their favour. Fewer will challenge their employer’s decisions, however unjust. Most will just complain. But if you have an inclination to fight back, here are some do’s and don’ts. more
Employees often get what they deserve. When they work hard, they get a bonus. When their service is long and meritorious, they may get a good severance package or pension. When they knowingly break their employer’s rules, however, they often are fired for cause and get nothing at all. This is the tale of two employees who misused their computers at work and the consequences they reluctantly faced.