Home Featured The 10 most popular labour and employment law stories on HR Law Canada in 2023

The 10 most popular labour and employment law stories on HR Law Canada in 2023

by HR Law Canada

The realm of labour and employment law in Canada has witnessed a dynamic year in 2023, marked by landmark rulings and significant legal developments.

From groundbreaking arbitration decisions to pivotal court judgments, these top stories have not only shaped the legal landscape but also offered critical insights into the evolving interplay between employment practices and the rights of workers.

As we delve into these top 10 stories — as measured by page views — we find themes of justice, fairness, and the ongoing struggle to balance personal rights with organizational policies. The cases range from a former VP’s significant award in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit while battling a severe health crisis, to an page-turning arbitration that reinstated bus drivers fired over private digital communications.

These stories reflect the nuanced and often contentious nature of workplace law, where legal precedents are continually being set and re-evaluated. Let’s explore these top stories, which have not only dominated headlines but also contributed to shaping the legal landscape in Canada in 2023.

Two parked Toronto police vehicles. Photo: Felix MacLeod/Pexels

Number 10: Toronto man wins right to challenge failed background check for special constable role

The Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) must disclose to an applicant, YK, the reasons for failing him in a background check for a special constable role and allow him to contest the findings. YK, previously employed as a special constable, was rejected for re-employment at Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) after failing TPSB’s background check. He sought clarification on the reasons for his rejection, which TPSB initially refused. The Ontario Superior Court ruled that TPSB’s decision affects YK’s employment prospects and is subject to judicial review, emphasizing the need for procedural fairness and transparency, especially considering potential impacts of systemic discrimination in policing. Read the full story.

The IBM logo on a stadium. Photo: Mikita Yo/Unsplash

Number 9: IBM manager awarded 27 months’ notice by Ontario court in wrongful dismissal case

The Ontario Superior Court awarded 27 months’ notice in a wrongful dismissal case to a long-serving IBM manager, exceeding the commonly cited 24-month cap. Gregory Milwid, who worked at IBM for 38 years, was terminated without cause in May 2020. The court considered the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on employment opportunities, Milwid’s age, and the difficulty he faced in finding new employment, leading to the extended notice period. In addition to the notice, the court awarded damages for lost pension contributions, the value of restricted stock units, and prejudgment interest. Read the full story.

An Air Canada Boeing 777. Photo: John McArthur/Unsplash

Number 8: Air Canada loses bid to defer grievance over pilot’s sexual harassment on layover in Tel Aviv

Air Canada’s request to defer a grievance over a sexual harassment incident was denied by an arbitrator. The grievance involves a worker harassed by a pilot in 2018, leading to her prolonged medical leave. Air Canada sought deferral citing an overlapping workers’ compensation claim. However, the arbitrator ruled that the grievance, raising broader human rights issues, should proceed without delay. The worker, seeking to return to a harassment-free workplace, had her claim dismissed by CNESST but is appealing. Read the full story.

General Motors Oshawa Assembly Plant. Photo: GM

Number 7: GM granted injunction against former worker who has tried to enter Oshawa Assembly Plant 11 times since being fired

General Motors obtained a court injunction to stop a former worker from trespassing at its Oshawa, Ontario assembly plant. The worker, previously fired for sexual harassment, tried to enter the plant 11 times since his dismissal. The Ontario Superior Court noted the worker’s aggressive behavior and threats, which raised safety concerns among employees. GM increased security at significant cost and sought legal action due to the worker’s persistent and escalating aggression, including physical altercations with security personnel. The injunction aims to protect GM’s property, employees, and contractors. Read the full story.

Photo illustration: HR Law Canada

Number 6: Rogers ordered to hand over information on termination packages, HR practices to former worker in wrongful dismissal suit

Rogers Communications has been instructed by the Ontario Superior Court to provide information on termination packages for employees with over 25 years of service, terminated without cause between 2017 and 2019. This order is part of a wrongful dismissal lawsuit by an ex-employee, KS. Rogers must also disclose its HR practices for determining termination packages. The court found these details relevant for assessing damages, rejecting Rogers’ claims of irrelevance and privilege. The company is also ordered to pay the plaintiff’s legal costs. Read the full story.

A large bowl of molten metal at a steel mill. Photo: Denis Pomortsev/Canva

Number 5: Stelco ordered to reinstate worker who was fired over Facebook post that criticized a union election

Stelco must reinstate a worker and pay punitive damages following an unjust termination over a Facebook post protesting a union election. The arbitrator found no justification for discipline, ruling that the post, which criticized union election conduct, didn’t constitute workplace harassment. The worker, with a long history at Stelco and active in the union, was fired despite initial findings that the issue was internal to the union. The case underscores the complexities of social media posts and workplace discipline, highlighting the need for fair and justifiable employer actions. Read the full story.

Number 4: Secret recording made by fired Ontario resort GM highlighted ‘disturbing aspects’ of termination: Court

An Ontario golf course general manager was awarded seven months’ notice and $15,000 in moral damages after a wrongful termination. The Ontario Superior Court criticized the employer’s handling of the termination, including a delayed payment and misleading statements. The employee, employed for over three years, had his termination poorly managed, with the court highlighting issues like unpaid expenses and lack of written notice. This ruling underscores the importance of proper termination procedures and employers’ responsibilities. Read the full story.

The campus of York University in Toronto. Photo: Canva

Number 3: York University faces $15 million class-action lawsuit over alleged anti-Semitic incidents

A class-action lawsuit against York University and the York Federation of Students, led by Diamond and Diamond Lawyers, seeks $15 million for alleged anti-Semitic incidents on campus. Representing current students, alumni, and attendees from 1998-2021, the suit claims York failed to ensure student safety, violating non-discrimination policies. It highlights incidents of harassment and threats, criticizing the university’s response and staff training. The lawsuit aims to enforce policy reform and secure student safety against ongoing anti-Semitism. Read the full story.

A GO Train travelling on the tracks in winter in the Greater Toronto Area. Photo: John McArthur/Unsplash

Number 2: GO Transit ordered to reinstate 5 bus drivers fired for crude WhatsApp conversations

In a landmark arbitration, five GO Transit bus drivers unjustly fired for private, off-duty conversations on WhatsApp were reinstated. These experienced drivers made derogatory comments about colleagues in assumedly private chats. The case highlights tensions between personal freedoms and workplace policies in the digital age, questioning employers’ rights to discipline for private communications. The decision, emphasizing privacy and free speech, criticizes Metrolinx’s investigation process and marks a significant precedent in digital privacy at work. Read the full story.

A man holds a blue ribbon, the symbol of Colon Cancer Awareness Month in March. Photo: HR Law Canada/Canva

Number 1: Former VP, fired while battling colon cancer, awarded nearly $400K as court blasts ‘scorched earth’ defence strategy

A former vice-president at a defense contractor, terminated while battling colon cancer, was awarded nearly $400,000 by the Ontario Superior Court. This sum includes $75,000 in punitive damages. The court criticized the company’s aggressive defense, which falsely accused him of financial misconduct. The executive had worked over 12 years for the company and faced delayed payments. His termination occurred amidst chemotherapy, with no prior performance issues or warnings. Read the full story.

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