January 31, 2013

The new year is sure to bring new challenges in labour relations, but a good grasp of key legal developments in labour and employment law from the past year will prepare you to meet those challenges. In this session experts will review the most important 2012 Supreme Court and court of appeal decisions in workplace law and explain how the key legal principles enunciated in those decisions should guide the actions and policies of workplace parties in the coming year. The speakers will also discuss how important legislative changes may affect you. Major developments taking place between the posting of this program and the air date of the audio will also be addressed. Significant time will be devoted to participants’ questions, and participants are encouraged to e-mail questions in advance. Specific cases and legislation to be discussed include:


    • Jones v. Tsige: What effect will the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision recognizing a right to sue for invasion of privacy have on labour and employment law? Specifically, how will it affect an employer’s ability to monitor employee e-mail and social media activity, access employee medical information or conduct video surveillance of employees inside and outside the workplace? Will the decision affect unionized and non-unionized workplaces differently? How will the common law right to privacy interact with statutory privacy rights found in federal and provincial privacy legislation?
    • R. v. Cole: In what circumstances will an employee have a reasonable expectation of privacy in information stored on an employer’s computer/computer network? How, if at all, does Cole change employers’ legal ability to monitor workplace computer use? Will Cole affect public sector workplaces differently than private sector workplaces? Will it affect unionized and non-unionized workplaces differently? What modifications to workplace policies should employers make in light of Cole?

Drug testing

    • Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, Local 707 v. Suncor Energy Inc.: In light of the Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision in Suncor, must all employers refrain from implementing drug and alcohol policies that are the subject of a union grievance? How does the Alberta Court of Appeal make use of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in R. v. Cole? Is this decision a clear signal that courts will be more protective of employee privacy rights than they have been in the past?
    • Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 30 v. Irving Pulp and Paper Limited: What conclusion is the Supreme Court of Canada likely to reach regarding random alcohol testing? How is the Supreme Court’s decision likely to affect existing employer drug and alcohol testing programs? Will the Court’s decision have any impact on non-unionized workplaces?

Labour arbitration

    • Canadian Office and Professional Employees’ Union v. Yellow Pages Group Co.: In light of the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision, does a grievor’s honesty or lack thereof at arbitration have any bearing on whether he or she should be reinstated? Will the effect of the court’s ruling be confined to Ontario or is it likely to be followed in other jurisdictions?

Mental stress claims under workers’ compensation legislation

    • Workers Compensation Amendment Act, 2011 [British Columbia Bill 14]: How do the Bill 14 amendments alter the British Columbia Workers’ Compensation regime’s approach to mental illness? Will this legislation result in a flood of claims for compensation for mental illness caused by chronic workplace stress? Will other jurisdictions follow British Columbia’s lead with respect to compensation for mental disorders?

Criminal prosecution for negligence resulting in employee death

    • R. v. Metron Construction Corporation and R. v. Swartz: How will the criminal conviction of Metron Construction and its directing mind affect prosecutions for workplace health and safety violations? Do the sentences create an unsatisfactory precedent that will deter criminal prosecution for health & safety violations resulting in employee deaths?