Employment law in Canada is a rapidly evolving field and Howard Levitt has been a leading advocate for employers and employees for over 40 years. Howard has seen dramatic changes and this webinar will discuss some of the major developments in employment law in 2022 and look forward to what is upcoming in the field for 2023.
This webinar will give a rundown of some of the biggest changes Howard has seen including some recent cases in Canada.
According to data from the U.S. National Labour Relations Board, unions south of the border won more elections this year than at any time in the last 20 years. The number of victories increased 80 per cent over the prior year and twice as many workers were represented. More Americans approve of unions - 71 per cent according to Gallup — than at any time since 1965, when union membership rates were more than double what they are now. Although we do not have comparable data for Canada, Howard’s experience suggests a similar trend.
With inflation near 10 per cent, the average wage increase in Canada at 3.4 per cent leaves employees dramatically behind where they were even a year ago. Couple that with working from home or hybrid work, there is less connection to their employer. Smart employers, who have not had to worry about unions for the last number of years as union membership dropped continuously, are engaging firms like Howard’s as to how to remain union-free.
The case of Pohl vs. Hudson’s Bay:
This Ontario Superior Court case reminded employers of the need to vigilantly adhere to their employment obligations at the time of dismissal.
Hudson’s Bay was ordered to pay $55,000 in moral and punitive damages because it walked its employee out the door when firing him, was late in providing and inaccurately completed his ROE, delayed paying his employment standards termination and severance pay and, at the time of dismissal, offered him a junior sales associate position that had terms eliminating his future rights to severance. The courts will invariably provide employees the protection which they believe the employer should have provided.
The case of Kosteckyj vs. Paramount Corp.
This interesting decision by the Alberta Court of Appeal found that employees who have their salary and benefits reduced have only 10 days to take the position that it is a constructive dismissal, failing which they will be deemed to have accepted the reductions. This is a question which has long plagued employers, employees and employment lawyers.
The case of Gracias vs. Walt Dentistry:
This case serves as a lesson, particularly to employees and their lawyers, to not make exaggerated allegations of human rights or other abuses or they will be punished in costs at the end. It also sends a message to not sue in Superior Court for cases that legitimately should be in small claims. As well, it reminds employers not to make unfounded allegations of cause only to withdraw them later.
Older workers shown the door:
Another trend we saw in 2022 was that of employers disproportionately dismissing older workers. Employers relied on the hot job market, the best in 50 years, to dismiss employees who they had wanted to let go for a long time but had been concerned about severance costs. This year, because such workers could find work quite readily, with almost two job vacancies for every unemployed worker, employers’ severance costs were dramatically reduced since the employees would either find work or the employer could prove in court that they could have found work.
The return to the office:
Last but not least, the return to the workplace has been the biggest employment law theme of 2022. Employers generally want employees back in the workplace for team-building and productivity. Employees, to a large extent, are resistant.
We have reached the point where employees have a good argument that they have been permitted to remain home far longer than the pandemic required so that a recall to the office is a constructive dismissal. Employers have either had to accept that fact or, if they permit employees to remain working remotely, have them sign contracts permitting them to recall them at a future point with a defined advance notice.
This webinar will cover these topics and more.
Howard Levitt is arguably the most knowledgeable employment and labour lawyer in Canada and has argued in front of all levels of court including the Supreme Court of Canada. Howard’s experience in dealing with all levels of employment disputes is second to none and this webinar will help employers and employees gain insight into the very challenging and evolving field of employment law in Canada.
The webinar will deal with issues such as human rights violations in the workplace, work and safety related issues, wrongful dismissal and wrongful hiring practices and touch on some of the most pressing issues affecting employment law in Canada today.