Labour + Employment
News + Views + Events
Field Law represents clients in labour, employment, immigration, privacy, human rights and occupational health and safety matters in Western Canada. Small to mid-sized companies, large public sector clients, post-secondary institutions and professional associations facing unionized and non-unionized workforce challenges have relied on Field Law for more than a century. We also serve federal sector employers with operations primarily in Alberta, throughout the western provinces and parts of Ontario.
Field Law develops tailored solutions for virtually every organizational, policy and dispute issue that will impact your workforce, with a strong emphasis on the following:
• Access to Information and Privacy
• Collective Agreements
• Employee Discipline and Termination
• Employment Agreements and Recruitment
• Executive Compensation
• Human Resource Policies
• Human Rights Claims
• Grievance Arbitrations
• Medical and Parental Leave
• Non-Competition / Non-Solicitation Agreements
• Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)
• Compensation and Overtime Issues
• Workers’ Compensation Appeals
• Wrongful Dismissal Litigation
• Workplace Investigations
We have extensive experience in assisting clients across numerous industries in a broad range of labour relations matters, including negotiating fair collective bargaining terms, interpreting existing collective agreements, forecasting and managing potential workforce challenges and navigating complex arbitration disputes. Our primary goal is to foster cohesive labour-management relationships that enable organizations to reach their goals unimpeded by avoidable conflict and risk.
In the contemporary work environment, employers must manage through sophisticated obstacles – economic downturns, harassment, management of sick leave and accommodation issues, medical marijuana in the workplace plus many more – and they turn to Field Law to develop proactive and cost-effective strategies that enable them to maintain an effective workforce while also minimizing risk. We create value for clients through seminars and training sessions featuring custom presentations on emerging trends and best practices, as well as annual reviews of critical legal developments.
Our clients often encounter legal and business challenges that extend beyond our core labour and employment practice. To ensure all their diverse needs are satisfied, we also provide the following focused services:
Our business immigration team provides the full range of immigration and visa services for companies with international operations or global mobility programs, as well as families and individuals. We develop cost-effective solutions for business visitors, work permits, permanent residence and citizenship in Canada.
Our education law practice group is one of the largest in Alberta with deep experience in resolving labour relations matters concerning academic and non-academic staff, including discipline, grievances, human rights, disability management, collective bargaining and interest arbitration.
Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)
Field Law is one of the only firms in Western Canada that provides the complete range of OHS solutions to companies, executives and safety professionals in high-risk industries. Our services include due diligence program development, 24-hour emergency response, OHS compliance and regulatory action defence.
Pensions and Benefits
Our entire legal team – employment, trusts, tax, contracts, human rights, plus many more – collaborates with a vast network of non-legal financial and actuarial professionals to develop effective pensions and benefits plans and resolve related disputes.
We advise major municipal and regional police services and police oversight bodies on new developments in police law and law-enforcement policy. We also represent them in disputes before all levels of Court, as well as LERB panels, labour arbitration boards and human rights tribunals.
Our privacy law practice group provides a broad range of services to protect clients’ interests and strengthen customer relationships. Our services include privacy regulatory compliance in both the public and private sectors, developing employee and customer information management policies, auditing or assisting with Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) compliance, resolving disputes before courts and administrative agencies and conducting client training seminars on privacy trends and best practices.
We advise numerous professional regulatory colleges and organizations on a wide range of matters, including governance, legislative reform, registration, continuing competence, discipline, unauthorized practice, privacy, litigation and best practices training.
Gordon v. Aklavik (Hamlet), 1995 CanLII 3412 (NWT SC)
The Municipal Corporation of the City of Yellowknife and A.B. and The Northwest Territories Human Rights Commission, 2018 NWTSC 50
Ashraf v. SNC Lavalin ATP Inc., 2017 ABCA 95
IJ v. Alberta (Law Enforcement Review Board), 2016 ABCA 234, Alberta Court of Appeal
Alberta v. Suncor Energy Inc, 2016 ABQB 264
GH v. Edmonton (Police Service), 2016 ABLERB 006, Alberta Law Enforcement Review Board
Buffalo Trail Public Schools Regional Division No 28 v. Alberta Teachers' Association, 2016 CanLII 85245 (AB GAA)
Echavarria v. The Chief of Police of the Edmonton Police Service, 2016 AHRC 005, Alberta Human Rights Commission
Engel v. Edmonton (Police Service)
MacDonald v. Camrose (Police Service), 2014 ABLERB 055, Alberta Law Enforcement Review Board
Heidebrecht v. M.N.R., 2013 TCC 113
MacDonald v. Chief of Police, 2013 CanLII 27265 (AB LERB)
Summit Care Corporation (Calgary) Ltd. And Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, Health Care and Service Employees Union (CLAC),  Alta L.R.B.R. LD-14, Alberta Labour Relations Board
All Seniors Care Living Centres and Pevancie Group Staffing Ltd., Alberta Union of Provincial Employees,  Alta L.R.B.R. LD 53, Alberta Labour Relations Award
Bethany Care Society and Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (Clarke Grievance), (2008) 97 C.L.A.S. 20 (Francis), Alberta Grievance Arbitration Award
Calgary Islamic School and The Alberta Teachers' Association,  Alta. L.R.B.R. LD-8, Alberta Labour Relations Board
David Thompson Health Region (Alberta Hospital Ponoka) and Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (Makus Grievance),  A.G.A.A. No. 59 (Tettensor), Alberta Grievance Arbitration Award
School Boards Employer Bargaining Authority v. The Alberta Teachers' Association,  Alta. L.R.B.R. 240, Alberta Labour Relations Board
Weston Bakeries Limited and Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, Local 252,  Alta. L.R.B.R. LD-30, Alberta Labour Relations Board
Weston Bakeries Limited and Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, Local 2 (Interpretation of COLA Clause),  A.G.A.A. No. 20 (Elliott), Alberta Grievance Arbitration Award
Woods Homes and Canadian Union of Public Employees (McQueen Grievance),  A.G.A.A. No. 28 (Smith), Alberta Grievance Arbitration Award
Burnco Rock Products Ltd. and General Teamsters, Local 362 (Beaton Grievance),  A.G.A.A. No. 99 (Moreau), Alberta Grievance Arbitration Award
Graham Construction and Engineering (1985) Ltd. And United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Local No. 1325,  Alta. L.R.B.R. 10, Alberta Labour Relations Board
Relizon Canada Inc. and Communications, Energy and Paper Workers Union of Canada, Local 746,  Alta. L.R.B.R. LD-49, Alberta Labour Relations Board
Alberta Ballet Company and Canadian Actors' Equity Association,  Alta. L.R.B.R. LD-23, Alberta Labour Relations Board
Alberta Teachers' Assn. v. Moreau,  A.J. No. 435, ABCA 128, Alberta Court of Appeal
Avis Car Inc. and United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401 (Villaverde Grievance),  A.G.A.A. No. 59 (Jones), Alberta Grievance Arbitration Award
Calgary Roman Catholic Separate School District No. 1 and the Alberta Teachers' Association,  Alta. L.R.B.R. LD-82, Alberta Labour Relations Board
Dynamex Canada Inc. and Miscellaneous Employees, Teamsters Local Union 987,  Alta. L.R.B.R. LD-14, Alberta Labour Relations Board
Dynamex Canada Inc. and Miscellaneous Employees, Teamsters Local Union 987,  Alta. L.R.B.R. LD-6, Alberta Labour Relations Board
Dynamex Canada Inc. and Miscellaneous Employees, Teamsters Local Union 987,  Alta. L.R.B.R. LD-10, Alberta Labour Relations Board
Dynamex Canada Inc. and Miscellaneous Employees, Teamsters Local Union 987,  Alta. L.R.B.R. LD-14, Alberta Labour Relations Board
Dynamex Canada Inc. and Miscellaneous Employees, Teamsters Local Union 987,  Alta. L.R.B.R. LD-5, Alberta Labour Relations Board
Sturgeon School Division No. 24 v. Rear, 1998 ABCA 293, Alberta Court of Appeal
Alberta Teachers' Assn. v. Moreau,  A.J. No. 540, Alberta Court of Queen's Bench
Landry v. Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Separate School Division No. 4,  A.J. No. 1091, Alberta Court of Appeal
Alberta Teachers' Assn. v. Calgary School District No. 19,  A.J. No. 867, Alberta Court of Queen's Bench
Hempel v. Canada (Attorney General),  F.C.J. No. 652, Federal Court of Appeal
Master Mechanical Plumbing & Heating (1986) Ltd. And United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of Plumbers and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada, Local Union No. 496,  Alta. L.R.B.R. LD-31, Alberta Labour Relations Board
R. v. Collins,  A.J. No. 1045, Alberta Provincial Court
Re Calgary Roman Catholic Separate School District No. 1 (MacDonald Grievance), (1996) 68 L.A.C. (4th) 1 (Sims), Alberta Grievance Arbitration Award
Moore and Saddle Lake Education Authority,  C.L.A.D. No. 547 (Anderson), Canada Labour Code Adjudicator
Re Board of Trustees of Calgary Board of Education (Insurance Policy Grievance),  Alta. G.A.A. 95-091 (Hawco), Alberta Grievance Arbitration Award
Re Board of Trustees of Calgary Board of Education (Aizenman Grievance), (1994) 46 L.A.C. (4th) 353. (Moreau), Alberta Grievance Arbitration Award
Yagos v. Crowsnest Pass School Division No. 63,  A.J. No. 379, 19 Alta. L.R. (3d) 287(Q.B. Bd of Ref), Alberta Court of Queen's Bench
Dant Industries Limited,  OLRB Rep. November 1149, Ontario Labour Relations Board
Election Day Voting Rights
As most people are no doubt aware, Monday, October 21 is Election Day, and federal law requires employers across Canada to provide employees with paid time off to vote (unless an employee has already exercised the right to vote by casting an advance ba...
November 19, 2019
Cannabis: One Year Later
Edmonton Chamber of Commerce
One year after Canada legalized cannabis for recreational use, this panel will discuss the implications in the workplace, society, and to our country overall. The panel will explore all angles of post-legalization and feature experts from workplace saf...
The Best Lawyers in Canada 2020
34 Fielders Recognized
Field Law is pleased to announce that 34 of our lawyers are recognized in their respective practice areas in the 14th edition of The Best Lawyers™ in Canada. Recognition in Best Lawyers™ is based on peer reviews of leading lawyers and ...
September 26, 2019
Must Have Policies for Employers: Why, What + How
Join Field Law in Edmonton and Calgary and learn tips and tricks to assist with the implementation and enforcement of three workplace policies Employers should have in place in today’s market.We will explore how changes in legislation and culture...
Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat it Too: No Wrongful Dismissal Damages if Disability Benefits Paid
In Belanger v Western Ventilation Products Ltd, 2019 ABQB 571, a Master of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench found that an employee who became disabled after his notice of termination was not entitled to wrongful dismissal damages because the em...
How Dependent Must a Dependent Contractor Be?
The distinction between employees, independent contractors, and dependent contractors is a well-established part of Canadian employment law. But where to draw the line between independent contractors and dependent contractors in any given circumstance ...
Alberta Court of Appeal Confirms the Limitation Period for Statutory Damages Claims under PIPA
The Alberta Court of Appeal has recently confirmed that the limitation period under the Alberta Limitations Act applicable to a statutory claim for damages under the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) does not begin to run until a Commissioner&...
You're Fired: Here's Your Bonus
If an employee is fired for just cause are they entitled to their performance bonus for the months worked in that year? Most employers probably expect that the answer is no. However, in Master Schulz’s recent decision in Grainger v. Pentagon Farm...
Reality Check: Can You Contract Out of Being an Employer?
With great power comes great responsibility. Certainly this is true of employer-employee relationships, where the power imbalance generally tips in favour of the employer. Employers are responsible for providing training and supervision to employees, c...
Alberta Human Rights Tribunal Renders Landmark Costs Award Against Complainant
Canadian Employment Law Today
Changing the Health and Safety Culture
Business in Calgary
Human Rights Tribunal Renders Landmark Costs Award Against Complainant
In Facey v Bantrel Management Services Co., 2019 AHRC 4 the Alberta Human rights Tribunal made a watershed costs award against a complainant. Tribunal Chair Langlois-Klassen acknowledged in her decision that costs should only be awarded against a compl...
Recent Developments in Family Status Accommodation: A Three-Headed Monster of Approaches?
Recent cases dealing with the protected human rights ground of “family status” provide employers with some additional guidance (and confusion) regarding the scope of their obligations, as courts, arbitrators and tribunals continue to try to...
Heads Up: Labour + Employment Laws Are Changing Again
On Monday May 27, the UCP-led Government of Alberta introduced Bill 2: An Act to Make Alberta Open for Business. Bill 2 passed its first reading and is aimed at reversing some of the legislative changes made by the NDP during its time in government. If...
Squaring the Circle or Levelling the Playing Field? Alberta’s New OHS Regime
On June 1, 2018 the Alberta Legislature changed occupational health and safety law history. The legislative changes to the Act, Regulations and Code changed the legal landscape in material ways, some of which are in tension with other legisla...
A New Approach to the Reasonable Expectation of Privacy: R v Jarvis, 2019 SCC 10
Labour + Employment
Though it emerges in a criminal law context, the new decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R v Jarvis, 2019 SCC 10 is likely to have an impact on future cases that consider the scope of an individual’s privacy interest, whether in the crimin...
The #metoo Movement and Interim Measures
Ryerson University v Ryerson Faculty Association, 2018 CanLII 111683In Ryerson University and Ryerson Faculty Association, a recent case out of Ontario, an arbitrator was asked to consider the appropriateness of interim measures imposed on an employee ...
February 6, 2019
2018 Year in Review for Northern Employers
Join Field Law for a review of the most important legal cases from 2018. Topics covered will include:
Occupational Health + Safety
This seminar will be broadcast live via ...
2018 A Year in Review Seminar Series
The Field Law Labour and Employment Group presents the annual Year in Review seminars in Calgary and Edmonton. Join us for legal updates and practical challenges for management and employee groups in the areas of:
#metoo - What's an Employer To Do and Not To Do?
Leanne Monsma discussed what employers should do, as well as what employers are obligated to do, when they receive complaints of sexual harassment.
The Long And Winding Road To Accommodation - How Long Is Too Long?
Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association v Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, 2018 CanLII 90730After a lengthy period of time off work, a school board failed to accommodate a teacher with their return to work within a suitab...
'Tis the Season: Holiday Parties + Employer Obligations
The holiday season has arrived, and with it many employers will celebrate the year with their staff. To ensure that everyone has a safe and joyous time, employers should keep in mind their obligations to employees and guests who attend office parties o...
Precise Language Needed to Override Reasonable Notice
It is fairly common for a written employment agreement to seek to limit an employee’s termination notice to the minimum amount prescribed under employment standards legislation. However past case law suggests that doing so may be more difficult t...
Buildex Calgary Seminar Talks Cannabis in the Workplace
Journal of Commerce
Court Upholds Decision to Allow Post-Incident Drug and Alcohol Testing After Near Miss
Canadian Employment Law Today
Court Upholds Decision to Allow Post-Incident Drug and Alcohol Testing After Near-Miss
October 24 + 30, 2018
Effective Responses to Sexual Misconduct and Harassment Complaints Workshop
An increasing number of organizations are being rocked by allegations of harassment and sexual misconduct by their employees. Often these allegations are broadcast on social media, catching organizations flat-footed and unprepared.
Join Field Law...
October 3 + 10, 2018
Cannabis in the Workplace: Implications for Employers
Recreational cannabis will be legal in Canada on October 17, 2018.
Join Field Law’s Labour and Employment Group for a detailed, scenario-based half-day workshop providing practical advice and useful tips to prepare your organization for situat...
Punitive and Aggravated Damages – Exceptional but Necessary Remedies
Ruston v Keddco Mfg. (2011) Ltd., 2018 ONSC 2919Although traditionally, punitive and aggravated damages were deemed as exceptional remedies, the Courts have turned to these remedies to assist employees where the employer’s actions may be deemed a...
Minimum Wage Increases in Alberta
As of October 1st, the Alberta’s minimum wage increase will finally come into effect, bumping the minimum wages from $13.60 to $15 per hour.
According to a report released by Public Interest Alberta, more than 300 000 Albertans will be getting...
The Best Lawyers in Canada 2019
28 Field Law Lawyers Recognized
Field Law is proud to announce that 28 of our lawyers have been included in the 13th edition of The Best Lawyers™ in Canada. These lawyers have been recognized in 17 service areas, resulting in a total of 36 rankings.Among the 28 Field Law l...
'Clearly Separate': Workplace Sexual Misconduct Not Captured by Employment Release
Canadian Employment Law Today
“Clearly Separate”: Workplace Sexual Misconduct Not Captured by Employment Release
In the recent decision of Watson v. The Governing Council of the Salvation Army of Canada, 2018 ONSC 1066, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice held an employee’s claim for sexual harassment against another employee for conduct at the workplace ...
Cannabis Complicates Crossing the Border
The legalization of cannabis in Canada poses a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs, investors, and businesses. It is estimated that the recreational cannabis market in Canada may generate approximately $23 billion in annual revenue, creating jobs and ...
HRTO Finds Exemptions in Human Rights Code Unconstitutional
Recently, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (the “HRTO”) released a significant decision regarding an employer’s discretion to terminate extended health, dental and life insurance benefits for employees that reach the age of 65, bu...
Legal Cannabis: Coming to Canada on October 17, 2018
Countdown to Cannabis Legislation
On June 20, 2018, the federal government announced that Canadians will be able to possess and consume cannabis recreationally under the Cannabis Act as of October 17, 2018. Until that date, cannabis possession and consumption remains illegal, other tha...
#metoo: What’s an Employer To Do and Not To Do?
Leanne Monsma discusses what employers should do, as well as what employers are obligated to do, when they receive complaints of sexual harassment.
June 5, 2018
Cannabis in the Workplace - Implications for Northern Employers
What Northern Employers Need to Know About Cannabis in the Workplace
Join Field Law’s Labour and Employment Group for a detailed, scenario-based half-day workshop providing practical advice and useful tips to prepare your organization for situ...
Skip the Investigation and Risk Punitive Damages
In recent cases such as Smith v Vauxhall Co-Op Petroleum Limited, 2017 ABQB 525 and Garnett v Alberta Motor Association, 2017 ABPC 267, Alberta courts have cautioned employers about the importance of properly investigating complaints of impropriet...
May 23, 2018
The New Alberta OHS Act: More Roles, More Obligations + Many More Pitfalls
Join Field Law for a comprehensive half-day workshop that will prepare you for the upcoming changes to the OHS Act.
On June 1, serious changes are coming to Alberta’s occupational health and safety law. Already an onerous regulatory regi...
April 11-12, 2018
HR Undefined 2018
HR Undefined is CPHR Alberta’s largest annual event. It provides an environment where you can learn solutions to HR challenges through professional development and networking with Alberta’s HR pros. In April 2018, Human Resources and busine...
Cannabis in the Workplace: A Few Things Employers Might Get a Taste of
Aboriginal Business Quarterly
2017 A Year in Review Seminar Series
The Field Law Labour and Employment Group presents the annual Year in Review seminars in Calgary and Edmonton. Join us for legal updates and practical challenges for management and employee groups in the areas of:
Occupational Health and ...
Protection From Discrimination in Employment – To Infinity and Beyond
At the end of last year, the Supreme Court of Canada, in the highly anticipated decision of British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal v Schrenk, 2017 SCC 62 (“Shrenk”), addressed the following important issue: How far does protection from disc...
Jail for OHS Offences? Yes - Even if the OHS Prosecutor Didn’t Ask For it!
It has long been the law in Alberta that work site parties convicted of offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulations or Code could spend time in jail. Until recently, however, this had never happened. Alberta courts have relied in...
If You Haven't Heard About the Upcoming Changes to the Alberta Employment Standards Regulation, You Need to Read This!
Important changes to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code (the “Code”) come into effect in just a few short weeks. In order to align the Employment Standards Regulation with these changes, on December 7, 2017 the Government of Alberta ...
R v Jarvis: Is There a Reasonable Expectation of Privacy in Schools?
In R v Jarvis, the Ontario Court of Appeal recently discussed the existence of a reasonable expectation of privacy in a school environment.BackgroundThe Respondent, a high school teacher, was surreptitiously recording female students and teachers using...
Employment Standards Code Changes are Effective January 1: Are You Ready?
As outlined in our previous alerts, almost all of the changes to the Employment Standards Code (the “Code”) brought in by the Fair and Family- Friendly Workplaces Act come into effect on January 1, 2018. Employers should take the following ...
Bill 30 Overhauls Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Act
On November 27, 2017 the Alberta Government introduced Bill 30 – An Act to Protect the Health and Well-Being of Working Albertans. Bill 30 proposes updates to Alberta’s Workers Compensation Act while offering a complete replacement of the c...
Failure to Investigate Not Fatal to Just Cause Termination
The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench’s recent decision in Watkins v Willow Park Golf Course, 2017 ABQB 541, centres around a case of a supervisor who developed unreturned romantic feelings for another employee. The case also contains importan...
Times They Are A Changin': Drastic Changes to Alberta's Work Laws Are Upon Us
The provincial government's new Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act has introduced profound changes to Alberta's Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code. Some changes are already in effect, and some come into effect on January 1...
Legalized Recreational Marijuana in Alberta - Is Your Workplace Prepared?
On April 13, 2017, the federal government tabled two new cannabis-related bills before Parliament, Bill C-45: An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts and Bill C-46: An Act to ame...
What Evidence is Required to Implement Random Drug and Alcohol Testing Policies in Safety Sensitive Workplaces?
Without Prejudice: An Invisibility Cloak for a Mature World
Almost immediately following the unfortunate reality of a termination of employment, another unfortunate reality almost always arrives: a “without prejudice” demand letter. Indeed, that demand letter is perhaps the second “without pre...
The Best Lawyers in Canada 2018
25 Field Law Lawyers Recognized
25 Lawyers from Field Law Recognized in The Best Lawyers™ in Canada 2018
Field Law is pleased to announce that 25 lawyers have been included in the 12th Edition of The Best Lawyers™ in Canada. Three of these lawyers are new additions a...
Terminated Employee Awarded Aggravated Damages for Employer's Conduct
Termination of employment can cause an employee a great deal of hardship. This is especially true when allegations of misconduct and insubordination are at play. The case of Lalonde v. Sena Solid Waste Holdings Inc, 2017 ABQB 374 cautions employers to ...
How Key is the Employee? Identifying When an Employee is a Fiduciary
A fiduciary employee is an employee trusted with a measure of responsibility by their employer. This in turn creates corresponding duties owed by the fiduciary that go over and above those normally owed by an employee to an employer.It is therefore imp...
Alberta’s Highest Court Clarifies OHS Law: Privilege Must Be Proven
Labour and Employment Alert
With its decision this week in Alberta v. Suncor Energy Inc, 2017 ABCA 221, the Alberta Court of Appeal has considered and clarified the application of solicitor-client privilege and litigation privilege to incidents under Alberta’s Occupational ...
Certain Earnings During Notice Period Not Considered Mitigation
On May 23, 2017, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Superior Court of Justice in the case of Brake v. PJ-M2R Restaurant Inc. 2016 ONSC 1795, 2017 ONCA 402, endorsing the lower court’s finding that certain earnings during the n...
Update on Bill 17: The Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act
Case Update for Styles v. Alberta Investment Management Corporation
On June 1, 2017, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an application for leave to appeal of the decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal in Styles v. Alberta Investment Management Corporation.1 This leaves the Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision u...
Province Announces New Partnership with Police to Investigate Serious Workplace Safety Incidents
The Government of Alberta has announced a new partnership with ten different police agencies across the province to define protocols for the investigation of serious workplace occupational health and safety (OHS) incidents.The agreement is titled the &...
5 Tips to Avoid Constructive Dismissal Claims
A constructive dismissal claim arises when an employer unilaterally changes a fundamental term of the employment agreement and, while the employer has not directly terminated the employee, the employee feels as though they are being pushed out and quit...
The Resignation Trap: Avoiding Unwanted Consequences When an Employee Resigns
It may be assumed that when an employee says “I quit” or walks into his employer’s office, hands in his keys and says “I’m done” the employer can accept the employee’s resignation and move ...
Alberta's Minimum Wage is on the Rise
Effective October 1, 2016, Alberta’s minimum wage will increase from $11.20 per hour to $12.20 per hour. This is the first step in the Provincial government’s plan to increase the minimum wage in Alberta to $15.00 per hour by...
New Essential Services Legislation Now In Force
On May 27, 2016, Alberta’s new Essential Services legislation came into force.Bill 4 – An Act to Implement a Supreme Court Ruling Governing Essential Services is the Alberta Government’s answer to the Supreme Court&rsqu...
Clarifying Irving: Can an Alberta Employer Implement a Random Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy in a Safety Sensitive Workplace?
Despite a new decision on the issue from the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench (the “Court”) on May 18, 20161, the answer to this question remains “maybe.” The Court has, however, provided us with a measure of ...
Sit Back and Relax - Is there a Duty to Mitigate after Termination of a Fixed-Term Contract?
The Ontario Court of Appeal recently issued its decision in Howard v. Benson Group Inc. 2016 ONCA 256, relating to the termination of a fixed-term employment contract. The Plaintiff, Mr. Howard, was a Truck Shop Manager who ent...
Dependent Contractors Awarded 26 Months' Reasonable Notice
Dependent contractors are becoming an increasing portion of the working population, and an Ontario court recently confirmed that protections available to them are at the top end of the scale.In the case of Keenan v. Canac Kitchens, 2015 ...
Gender Identity and Gender Expression Are Now Prohibited Grounds of Discrimination Under The Alberta Human Rights Act
As of December 11, 2015, gender identity and gender expression are prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Alberta Human Rights Act. Under section 7 of the Act employers cannot refuse to employ or to continue to employ any person,...
Occupational Health & Safety
Harassing Comments Are No Joke: Employer Ordered to Pay Employee $7,500
Mohamud v. Canadian Dewatering (2006) Ltd., 2015 AHRC 16, is a recent decision of the Alberta Human Rights Commission. This decision demonstrates the type of workplace harassment that creates a poisoned workplace and is a reminder t...
October 2015 Brings Key Upcoming Employer Obligations:
Minimum Wage Increases and Federal Election Responsibilities
The month of October 2015 brings two key milestones that all Alberta employers should be aware of. First, on October 1, 2015, the minimum wage in Alberta will increase. Second, on October 19, 2015, the federal election will take pla...
Determining Reasonable Notice: Is Character of Employment a Less Important Factor?
As an employer, when terminating an employee without just cause, it is important to have some sense of the reasonable notice period a court might award in the circumstances in order to prepare an appropriate severance offer. There a...
When is an Employee’s Disability a Factor in his Dismissal?
On June 30, 2015, the Court of Appeal of Alberta released its decision in Stewart v Elk Valley Coal Corporation, 2015 ABCA 225 (“Stewart”) and clarifying what constitutes discrimination. In Stewart, the employer terminat...
Canada Labour Code Does not Grant Non-Unionized Employees a "Right to the Job"
In Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, 2015 FCA 17 ("Wilson"), the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) made a game-changing decision when they unanimously found that without cause dismissals of nonunionized empl...
Porter Airlines Pays $150,000 for Alleged Violations of Canada's AntiSpam Legislation (CASL)
On June 29, 2015, Porter Airlines became the third Canadian company to pay a significant financial penalty under CASL, since the legislation came into force in July 2014. Earlier speculation over whether CASL would have any teeth sh...
Alberta Legislation Curtailing the Right to Strike is Struck Down
In the wake of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision that established a constitutionally protected right to strike, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench has struck down legislation that prevents certain classes of Alberta work...
"Full and final settlement of any and all claims" – not so, says the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal
The Alberta Human Rights Tribunal (“Tribunal”) released a decision this month that considered whether the terms of a Release Agreement constituted a valid and enforceable settlement of an employee’s allegations of human...
Competing After Employment (Part One)
A key employee departs. The employer, worried that confidential information has leaked out of the company, scrambles to respond. After a frenzied period of preparation, the employer starts a lawsuit and seeks an injunction against t...
"Employed" in Name Only - An Employer’s Duty to Provide Work
Will an employment contract be fundamentally changed if the employer stops assigning work? This was the question tackled by the Alberta Court of Appeal in its recent decision in Bonsma v Tesco Corporation, 2013 ABCA 367. The P...
Essential Services and Essential Rights: Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and the New Constitutional Right to Strike
In Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v. Saskatchewan, 2015 SCC 4, the Supreme Court of Canada held that the right to strike is protected under the right to freedom of association, guaranteed by s. 2(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rig...
Court of Appeal of Alberta Upholds Employers Anton Piller Order
Among the Court of Appeal of Alberta’s first decisions of the New Year, was its decision in Peters & Co Limited v Ward, 2015 ABCA 6 (CanLII), regarding the matter of an Anton Piller Order obtained by an employer, an invest...
Commercial Contracts Include an Implied Duty of Good Faith
There has long been an implied duty that an employer must act in good faith when terminating employment contracts. Until now, such a duty was not necessarily implied in other commercial contracts. However, all companies should be aw...
As previously reported in Workwise, on November 15, 2013, the Alberta Personal Information Protection Act (the “Act”), was declared invalid on constitutional grounds by the Supreme Court of Canada (the “SCC”) ...
Jian Ghomeshi’s Lawsuit and the Current State of the Law on Civil Claims by Unionized Employees
Jian Ghomeshi has withdrawn his $55,000,000 lawsuit against his former employer, the CBC. The reasons Ghomeshi chose to drop the suit have not yet been made clear, but the current state of the law likely would have made his claims d...
Terminating Fixed-Term Contracts on Your Terms
The Court of Appeal of Alberta recently upheld a finding of constructive dismissal of an employee, who although paid to the end of his one year fixed-term contract, was not allowed to work during the final month of the contract.In Thompson v Carde...
Reinstatement Available as a Remedy Nearly Ten Years After Last Day Worked
Although reinstatement in the Human Rights context is considered a unique and uncommon remedy, the Ontario Divisional Court recently refused an application for judicial review of a decision of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (the “Tribunal...
Clarifying the Legal Test for "Family Status" Discrimination
Federal Court of Appeal Rules Employers Discriminated by Failing to Accommodate Employees’ Childcare Needs
Two recent decisions from the Federal Court of Appeal are the latest word in the ongoing debate over workplace discrimination on the basis of “family status”. These decisions are important to employers, as they signal a continued movem...
Wal-Mart Could Not Thaw the "Statutory Freeze" by Closing its Store
Where a retail store is performing very well, with objectives being met to such an extent that bonuses are being promised to employees, would a reasonable employer close that store? The Supreme Court of Canada determined in the U.F.C.W., Local 503...
Employer Liability for Aggravated Damages Arising from Workplace Harassment
When it comes to terminating an employment relationship, the amount of pay in lieu of notice is something an employer can exercise a degree of control over through a written employment contract. What is often forgotten is the potential for enormou...
Alberta Arbitration Board Rules Random Drug and Alcohol Testing Unreasonable
In the ongoing debate on random drug and alcohol testing of employees, an Alberta Arbitration Board (the “Board”) has found that an employer’s random drug and alcohol testing policy is unreasonable.The Board’s decision is t...
Reasonable Notice and the Older Worker
There was once an expectation that workers would retire by age 65. That expectation is changing. For a variety of reasons, many workers now want or expect to work later in life. As it can no longer be assumed that employees will retire at a certai...
Injunction Granted: Public Service Salary Restraint Act "Guts the Bargaining Process"
Although other governments in Canada have imposed wage capping legislation, the Public Service Salary Restraint Act, SA 2013, c. P43 (the “PSSRA”) is unique given its “very broad and very focused effect” on one group, the C...
Headhunter Discriminates in Hiring
Employer Found Liable
SynopsisReiss v. CCH Canadian Limited, 2013 HRTO 764 is the latest case out of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal dealing with age discrimination in hiring. Reiss is important in general because the tribunal found an employer liable for the discrim...
"You Compete Me" - Will the Courts Love Your Company’s Restrictive Covenants for Employees as Much as You Do?
An area of law where both employers and employees often struggle to find clarity is the area of restrictive covenants, specifically non-competition and non-solicitation clauses for employees. Part of the reason for frequent confusion is that this ...
Supreme Court of Canada Upholds Union’s Right to Freedom of Expression
As noted in our latest Privacy Press update, recently the Supreme Court of Canada in Alberta (Information and Privacy Commissioner) v. United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401, 2013 SCC 62, determined that Alberta’s Personal Information...
Supreme Court of Canada Declares Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act Unconstitutional
The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has declared the Alberta Personal Information Protection and Privacy Act (PIPA) unconstitutional in its entirety in the UFCW case 2013 SCC 62. This will have far-reaching effects for organizations subject to ...
A Lovely Review of Employment Contract Principles
In Lovely v. Prestige Travel Ltd., 2013 ABQB 467, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench ordered an employer to pay an executive level employee one year’s base salary, after it terminated his employment one year into a two year, fixed...
Employee Relief Causes Employer Grief
Recently, two employers who provided notice of termination, and at the same time relieved employees of their duties, were held instead to have at that time terminated those employees, which lead to financial consequences for both employers. In Alb...
If The Whistle Sounds, Is a Penalty Coming? - Alberta's New Whistleblower Legislation
On June 1, 2013, Alberta’s first ever Whistleblower legislation came into effect. The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act is intended to protect employees in the public sector who act as whistleblowers – employees...
Supreme Court Speaks On Random Alcohol Testing
The Supreme Court of Canada has released its decision in a much anticipated case about random alcohol testing in the workplace. In a split decision, a majority of the Court decided that a policy requiring employees in a New Brunswick pulp and...
A Catch to a Release
A signed release provides peace of mind that all disputes are resolved and there will be no further claims, complaints, or legal action. Or does it? Two recent Ontario cases remind us that a signature alone is not a guarantee of an enforceable rel...
Legislative Update: A Primer on the Recent Changes to Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Act
The Protections and Compliance Statute Amendment Act, which received royal assent in December, 2012 has resulted in a number of changes to Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. This article highlights two key developments that stem f...
Update on Family Status Accommodation: Federal Court Finds that Childcare Not a "Choice"
The Federal Court of Canada has upheld a decision of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal which found that employers have a duty to accommodate an employee’s childcare obligations in certain circumstances on the basis of “family status,&...
A Win for Employers: Greater Obligations on Some Departing Employees
SYNOPSIS Evans v The Sports Corporation, 2013 ABCA 14 is the latest case from the Alberta Court of Appeal dealing with the obligations of departing employees to their former employers. Evans is important because it provides more g...
The Many Benefits of a Good Termination Clause
A recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision means that a properly drafted employment contract can protect employers and their employees from personal liability when carrying out a termination.In Richards v. Media Experts M.H.S. Inc., Lauren Richards...
A Potpourri of Access Orders: Practical Guidance in Responding to Access Requests
The Alberta Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has recently released several Orders relating to access to personal information pursuant to the Personal Information and Privacy Act (“PIPA”).Access to information is not o...
Recent Developments in Construction, Labour Relations, and Occupational Health & Safety in Alberta, Canada
Alberta Court of Appeal Maintains Injunction Postponing Random Drug Testing
The Alberta Court of Appeal, in a 2 to 1 decision released December 5, 2012, has kept an injunction in place to prevent Suncor from implementing random drug testing of employees until a union grievance can be heard.Earlier this year, Sun...
Privacy Breaches Can Be a One-Two Punch for Employers: Arbitrator Awards Damages for Employee Credit Checks that Breached Privacy Legislation
Twenty-six employees of the Alberta Justice and Attorney General’s Maintenance Enforcement Program (“MEP”) were each awarded $1250.00 in damages each after a Peace Officer carrying out a workplace investigation used their pe...
Navigating the Two-Way Street of Workplace Accommodation
The phrase “accommodation is a two-way street” appears often arbitration and human rights decisions that discuss an employer’s duty to accommodate its employees. That accommodation has been characterized this way means that ...
Supreme Court of Canada Decision Demonstrates the Importance of Workplace Computer Policies
Alberta Privacy Commissioner Issues Report on Privacy Breaches
Alberta's new Privacy Commissioner, Jill Clayton, has released a report on the first two years of mandatory privacy breach reporting in
Alberta (the "Breach Report").Under Alberta's private sector privacy law, the Personal Informatio...
Safety without Borders? Let's Hope Not.
Limits on Damage Awards: The Alberta Court of Appeal Weighs In
Alberta’s Court of Appeal recently reviewed the bases for damages in wrongful dismissal cases when it handed down its decision in Merrill Lynch Canada Inc. v. Soost. Damages of $1.6 million, awarded in addition to $600,000 pay...
Employee Criminal Record Checks
Employers perform criminal record checks on current and prospective employees because of the nature of the employment, the vulnerability of customers or clients, or because of contractual or other industry requirements. Unlike many ...
You Raise the Issue - Human Rights vs. Human Safety
Question: We’re working hard to establish a “safety culture” at our workplace, but those two terms are sometimes at odds with one another. In other words, what happens when “culture” seems to interfere with ...
Impact of Union Representation Clauses in Alberta
Alberta Government Reconsiders OHS Enforcement after Auditor General’s Critique
Amendments to Alberta OHS legal regime came into effect in 2002; the revolutionary OHS Code in 2004. Given that it took some time for first charges under the new regime to be laid, this test of the government's efforts to make Alberta safer is some...
New - Changes to PIPA
Workplace Violence: A Chemical Explosion of Another Kind
Wal-Mart Wins This Round
You Raise the Issue - Negotiating Employment Agreements
Question: We would like to protect our business by negotiating employment agreements with non-competition and non-solicitation clauses but have heard that these types of clauses are sometimes unenforceable. How do we make sure our employment ...
Multiple Births - An EI Claim for Each Parent?
In a somewhat surprising decision, an Employment Insurance Board of Referees panel has granted simultaneous Employment Insurance (“EI”) benefits to both parents of newborn twins. Effectively, the decision sets the s...
Case Update: Rare Alberta OHS Acquittal
The mandatory reporting of communicable diseases dates at least as far back as the Book of Leviticus, which described notification for a disease it labelled as leprosy.1 Current public health legislation, as well as recent amendmen...
Special Privacy Edition, Summer 2009
Biometric Technology in the Workplace:
Preventing "Buddy Punching"
Employers face many challenges in managing the attendance of their employees. Employers who use time card or swipe card systems to track the arrival and departure of their employees may also have to deal with the issue of “buddy punchin...
The Impact of Influenza A (H1N1) Virus In The Workplace
On April 29, 2009, the World Health Organization (“WHO”) raised the pandemic alert from Phase 4 to 5 in regard to Influenza A (H1N1). As of Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 201 cases of Influenza A (H1N1) have been confirmed in&n...
Considerations for Revising Employment Contracts As An Alternative to Terminations
Due to necessity arising out of an economic downturn, employers may consider changing the terms of the employment contract, such as rolling back employee salary or benefits or revising termination provisions. These actions may be a cost-effec...
Economic Downturn Special Edition
Notice Periods in a Recession
The impact of a recession on reasonable notice periods cannot be ignored. Determining how much working notice or pay in lieu of notice to give an employee upon dismissal without cause depends on several factors. Since 1960, the four factors m...
Our client: A large, federally-regulated employer, with a major, national operation and a non-union workforce.
- Where we began: The company purchased a unionized operation and needed help integrating the two operations. As Frank put it, "Our client wanted to realize the efficiencies of merging into one, non-union location while recognizing the rights of the union employees. First, however, we needed to assess the legal issues and the scope of the unionized workers' rights."
- Our approach: In collaboration with the client, we decided to keep the unionized group initially separate. "This allowed the client time to sort out the complicated issues and scenarios involved including the impact on the client's national operations and to negotiate with the union."
- The result: The client expects a settlement that includes removal of some union job categories, subject to the agreement's approval by the Canada Industrial Relations Board.
Client focused results
An employee was terminated after 17 years of service and offered six months’ severance. The client initially came to Taylor to review a severance package before signing anything.
In an attempt to resolve the issue quickly and without litigation, Taylor began by sending a demand letter to the employer outlining the client’s proper entitlements in law. The client was dissatisfied by the employer’s response to the letter and started a lawsuit against the employer. Taylor brought an application for summary judgment (meaning a determination of the merits of the case without need for a full trial).
Taylor’s application was successful. The client was awarded double what was originally offered by the employer, 12 months of pay in lieu of notice, with a small deduction of two weeks of wages earned in his new job. The client was also reimbursed for 11.5 months of extended healthcare benefits and awarded legal costs.
The client was thrilled with the outcome and was particularly happy to avoid the need for and delay in waiting for a trial. By working closely with the client from the outset, Taylor was able to craft the case she argued and adapt the strategy to suit the client’s appetite for litigation. Ultimately, Taylor effectively used the Rules of Court to provide a cost and time efficient resolution for the client.
Assisting a client with a complex grievances case
An employer was facing numerous grievances in relation to a single employee. The case was very complicated because of the high number of grievances, documents and witnesses. The case proceeded to arbitration, however, due to the effectiveness of the way Leanne helped present the employer’s case, the union ultimately withdrew the grievances. Leanne was successful because she advocated strongly on behalf of her client but maintained a respectful and collaborative relationship with the union throughout.