BC’s 14 Protected Grounds of Discrimination

The Federal government, along with every province and territory in Canada, has human rights legislation prohibiting discrimination on grounds such as race, gender and disability in a number of public environments: tenancy, service, and employment, to name a few. 

In the employment context, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees at any time in the employment process.  This includes discrimination in advertising for positions, hiring, working conditions and through to termination and retirement.

Continue reading “BC’s 14 Protected Grounds of Discrimination”

The Bikini Bistro and Discrimination in the Restaurant Industry

An article recently came across my news feed that gave me pause. A new restaurant will be opening in Kamloops, BC, with a ‘unique’ dress code. As the name suggests, the Teenie Bikini Bistro will serve typical pub-style fare served by – wait for it – bikini girls.

In today’s day-in-age, how is this still a thing? And how does this pass the smell test for workplace discrimination?

Continue reading “The Bikini Bistro and Discrimination in the Restaurant Industry”

Calculating Severance : What do the Courts Say?

We’ve all heard one of the following stories… An employee in heavy industry is laid off because of a downturn in the economy… Or an office worker is let go because she doesn’t get along with her supervisor… Or a company is going through a restructuring and has to terminate a quarter of its staff.

While the creation and destruction of jobs is essential to our economy and our workplaces, people affected by job-loss are nonetheless dealing with a unique form of personal tragedy. After all, a job is not only a source of income, it contributes to our overall well-being and is an important part of our identity.

Continue reading “Calculating Severance : What do the Courts Say?”

Does a 4-Day Work Week Work for Your Business?

TGIF

Businesses are increasingly looking at ways to attract, retain and motivate talent. But for all the talk of ping-pong tables, bean chairs and remote offices, could one solution be as simple as restructuring the typical work week?

In a recent world-wide survey conducted by Kronos, 59% of Canadian workers indicated that they would be interested in a 3-day weekend, and nearly 30% of Canadians were ready to take a pay-cut in order to do so. But practically speaking, how would a business go about doing so?

Continue reading “Does a 4-Day Work Week Work for Your Business?”

Why does the court process take so DAMN LONG? Actually… it doesn’t have to

Lawsuits are long, expensive and stressful.

And in most cases, I would agree with this statement. Complicated cases often require multiple trial days, which need to be booked several months or even a year in advance.  Court resources are thin and time is precious, so get in line and wait your turn.

But it doesn’t always need to be that way, especially with cases that are relatively simple or are valued at less that $100,000. It also just so happens that most employment law cases fall into one or the other of these categories. 

In my practice, with almost every new litigation file I start I aim to have the matter resolved either by settlement or court judgment within 6 months. Here are some of my strategies.


Continue reading “Why does the court process take so DAMN LONG? Actually… it doesn’t have to”

The Legalities of Criminal, Credit and Medical Checks in HR

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From time to time, I get questions from employees and companies alike about the legalities of performing various forms of background checks in the hiring process. While thankfully these issues do not come up too frequently, three forms of checks which cause particular concern are criminal record checks, credit checks, and medical checks.

While requests for this type of sensitive personal information are far more common in the United States, they continue to be applicable in Canada as well. In this article, we will examine whether these requests are legal and if so, what types of limits are associated with them. Continue reading “The Legalities of Criminal, Credit and Medical Checks in HR”

Employee Rights in a Workplace Investigation

Most people working in larger organizations have probably seen the following scenario, either from near or from far:

A co-worker has filed a complaint with human resources. We may know who the complainant is, but most likely their identity is kept anonymous to protect against retaliation. One by one, a human resources manager brings in witnesses to answer questions with a view of proving or disproving the complaint or ‘building a case’. Inevitably, the subject of the complaint will be asked to participate in one or more interviews. The conversation lacks context and the respondent is asked vague questions about past conduct. When the respondent provides a definitive answer, the interviewer ominously asks “Is there anything further I should know”, or even worse “Are you being completely truthful?”

All of which begs the question: if ever asked to participate in a workplace investigation, what are an employee’s rights?

investigator

Continue reading “Employee Rights in a Workplace Investigation”

Fixed-Term Employment: Manage the Risks and Respect Your Employees

Some employment relationships are short term or temporary by necessity, such as when an employee is hired to complete a discrete project or fill a maternity leave position. In these situations, the parties will often sign a contract that sets out how long the employment will last and when exactly it will end. We call such agreements fixed-term contracts.

One benefit to employers of a fixed-term contract is that when the employment ends on the date specified (subject to the cautions set out below), the employee is not entitled to reasonable notice or severance. However, there are also potential risks to using fixed-term employment contracts in your business.

Continue reading “Fixed-Term Employment: Manage the Risks and Respect Your Employees”

Defining your ‘Why?’ in Business and Law

Last month I took a leap of faith from a large, well established and respected law firm to a small, energetic boutique that was opening an office in my town. In between the hustle of changing offices, I was afforded a rare opportunity for some down time to look at myself and my practice beyond client needs, file demands and limitation dates. Questions of self-doubt started to dog me. Anxiety about financial insecurity, workflow and resources kept me awake at night. At least once after giving my resignation I asked myself “what have I done?” Continue reading “Defining your ‘Why?’ in Business and Law”

Easing the Burden of Proof on Failure to Mitigate? : Logan v. Numbers Cabaret Ltd.

application

In any wrongful dismissal lawsuit, you are almost certain to find the defence that the worker “failed to mitigate” their losses. In common terms, this little bit of legalese suggests that the worker failed to take reasonable steps to find comparable employment, and as a result, they should be awarded less damages for their termination. While often pled, arguments on the failure to mitigate often fall flat. The reason for this is that it’s been the employer’s responsibility to demonstrate that a worker has failed to mitigate, or in the words of the Supreme Court of Canada: “i) the employer bears the onus of demonstrating both that that an employee has failed to make reasonable efforts to find work and ii) that work could have been found”: see Evans v. Teamsters, Local 31, [2008] 1 S.C.R. 661. This can be extremely difficult to do.

However, a recent BC Supreme Court decision may suggest that the onerous task of proving a mitigation defence is easing. Continue reading “Easing the Burden of Proof on Failure to Mitigate? : Logan v. Numbers Cabaret Ltd.”