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Employment Laws in Canada

Info: 1576 words (6 pages) Law Essay
Published: 4th Dec 2020

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  1. Ontario Human Rights Commission v. Simpsons-Sears (“O’Malley”) (1985)

The Ontario Human rights Commission was a decision by the Supreme court of Canada that first acknowledged the existence of indirect discrimination in the workplace. The case was between Theresa O’Malley who was a seventh day Adventist and was employed by a retailing company, Simpsons- Sears (Canadian Human Rights Reporter, 2013). The latter claimed that she was being denied her rights of worship by not being allowed to obey her religion obligation. Her religion forbidden its followers against working on Saturday from sunrise to sundown. The policy of Simpsons- Sears was that all employees were required to work on Saturday and Sunday (Canadian Human Rights Reporter, 2013). Therefore, the Simpsons argued that it was not intentional to deny Theresa her rights as they were just obligating to the company’s directives. It was noted by the court that the decision to for workers to work on Friday and Saturday was for business reasons and not discriminative. The court of appeal determined that working on Saturday on rotational basis for all employees in the Simpsons’ was discriminative to Theresa (Canadian Human Rights Reporter, 2013). Therefore, the Court ruled that the Simpson’s retail company pays compensation for wages lost due to discrimination (Canadian Human Rights Reporter, 2013).

 The ruling by the court of appeal literally changed the law of work in Canada. The ruling was significant in realizing the need to consider the rights of employees when formulating company’s policies. It was important in realizing that feedback is important from the employees to the employers. Feedback would be important in assessing whether company’s policies would work for the workers.

  1. Honda Canada Inc. v. Keays (2008)

Honda Canada v Keays was a case in which Keays filed for reasons of unjust termination from work. Keays started working for Honda in 1986 (Simpson, 2008). He started off in the assembly unit and later joined the data entry. In 1997, he was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. He stopped working and thereafter started benefitting from Disability insurance until 1998 (Simpson, 2008). The insurance company determined thereafter that Keays was fit to return to work. However, Keays did not return to work and was placed in Honda’s disability program. The duration of his absence proved to be too long and was unjustified according to the doctor’s notes. Therefore, Honda asked Keays to meet with an occupational medicine specialist to determine how his disability could be accommodated (Simpson, 2008). Keays refused to meet and had concerns for termination. Honda thereafter terminated Keays from his job. The case was filed by Keays in which the Ontario Superior court of justice ruled in favor of Keays. He was entitled to 15 months’ notice and was awarded $500,000 in damages caused by Honda’s acts of discrimination and harassment (Simpson, 2008). Besides, the amount of damages awarded totaled to 610, 000 including a 25% premium. The court of appeal for Ontario dismissed the appeal but reduced the punitive damages to 100,000 (Simpson, 2008).

 The ruling was significant because it was a break through in protecting the rights of employees especially those disabled. The ruling changed the law of work in that employers should accommodate and hear out grievances forwarded to them by their workers.

  1. Eastmond v. Canadian Pacific Railway (2004)

This was a case filed by Eastmond an employee at the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) (Emond Harnden, 2019). The case was filed as a complaint about the installation of six video surveillance in its mechanical facility area. The complainant claimed that the installation of the surveillance cameras was in breach of the PIPEDA obligations (Emond Harnden, 2019). CP had previously installed cameras to monitor movement of locomotives and in dispatching of trains. Later on, they added cameras on door entrances and exits. Eastmond did not accept the installation of the cameras because he claimed that the process was done in secrecy and without any union consultation (Emond Harnden, 2019). Besides, he also claimed that the surveillance camera was an intrusion of workers privacy. Also, he stated that the installation of the cameras would negatively impact on worker’s morale and that the working environment was dangerous. The Privacy commissioner determined that the complaint was well founded. However, the court determined that CP did not violate any PIPEDA obligations by installing the surveillance cameras and therefore dismissed Eastmond’s case (Emond Harnden, 2019).

 The ruling was important in understanding the PIPEDA regulations on collection of information. In my opinion, I was not satisfied with the ruling because I believe that the employees led by Eastmond needed to have a say in the matter. It was not right that CP intruded into the working privacy of its employees.

  1. Dunmore v. Ontario (2001)

This was a decision by the supreme court of Canada on the constitutional right to freedom of association. The case was filed by agricultural workers led by Tom Dunmore, Walter Lumsden, Michael Doyle Salame Abdulhamid together with the support from the United Food and Commercial workers (Scc-csc.lexum.com, 2019). The complaint was a challenge on the Labor relations and Employment Statute Law Amendment Act (LRESLAA) of 1994. The complainants stated that the Act was a violation of their right to freedom of association and equality under section 2 (d) and 15(1) (Scc-csc.lexum.com, 2019). The judge at the first trial determined that the LRESLAA did not prevent the agricultural workers from forming a labour and workers union. Besides, the judge noted that any restrictions occurred as a result of actions by employers which were private parties and beyond the scope of the Act (Scc-csc.lexum.com, 2019). The court ruled that the purpose of the Act did not violate the Charter. However, the effect of the Act violated the Charter. The removal of ALRA and excluding the agricultural workers made them vulnerable and incapable of exercising their rights (Scc-csc.lexum.com, 2019).

 The ruling was important in understanding the interpretation of laws protecting rights of workers. It was important in understanding the role of employers in protecting the rights of employees. Also, the workers had a role in understanding the Act and determining how it protected or denied their rights.

  1. McKinley v. BC Tel (2001)

This was a case filed by Mckinley in which he was dismissed from his job by his employer. Mckinley had been awarded a leave of absence for hypertension blood pressure (Massie, 2019). He had worked for BC Tel for 17 years before he started experiencing high blood pressure. His doctor advised him to take a leave of absence (Massie, 2019). Afterwards he asked to return to work and requested for a less strenuous work. BC Tel denied his request and went on and terminated McKinley’s employment (Massie, 2019). McKinley filed a compliant in court citing that he was fired on an unjust cause. BC Tel claimed that McKinley had been dishonest on reasons for taking a leave. BC stated that McKinley could have taken a medication and promptly returned to work (Massie, 2019). The Supreme court of Canada determined that the employer had a done a mistake in dismissing the complainant (Massie, 2019). The court stated that dishonesty was not a valid reason for dismissal. The court did not award any damages to the complainant (Massie, 2019).

The ruling was important in understanding decisions on health of employees. The ruling changed the law of work in that it sensitized the need for employers to understand and respect medical freedom of their employees. In my opinion, I believe that the ruling was a step in the fight in upholding the rights of the workers in Canada.


  • Scc-csc.lexum.com. (2019). Dunmore v. Ontario (Attorney General) - SCC Cases (Lexum). [online] Available at: https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/1936/index.do [Accessed 29 Oct. 2019].
  • Emond Harnden. (2019). Emond Harnden - Focus - Federal Court: video surveillance system not in breach of PIPEDA. [online] Available at: https://www.ehlaw.ca/dec04-eastmondvcpr/ [Accessed 29 Oct. 2019].
  • Canadian Human Rights Reporter. (2013). Employer must take reasonable steps to accommodate employee. [online] Available at: https://www.cdn-hr-reporter.ca/hr_topics/systemic-discrimination/employer-must-take-reasonable-steps-accommodate-employee [Accessed 29 Oct. 2019].
  • Massie, S. (2019). CanLII Connects. [online] Canliiconnects.org. Available at: https://canliiconnects.org/en/summaries/32962 [Accessed 29 Oct. 2019].
  • Simpson, J. (2008). CanLII Connects. [online] Canliiconnects.org. Available at: https://canliiconnects.org/en/summaries/30914 [Accessed 29 Oct. 2019].

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