Atlantic Employers’ Counsel – Winter 2013

REASONABLE PEOPLE DOING QUESTIONABLE THINGS: CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND JUST CAUSE

Can a unionized employee moonlight in his off hours to earn some extra money by doing the same work he does for his daytime employer at cut rates? Can a high level executive take kickbacks for directing contract work to a friend? In both unionized and non-unionized environments, an employee who engages in a conflict of interest can lead to a just cause termination.

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CATCH ME IF YOU CAN: DEALING WITH FRAUDULENT MISREPRESENTATION OF QUALIFICATIONS OR CREDENTIALS IN THE WORKPLACE

It happens often. A potential candidate arrives at a job interview with a stellar curriculum vitae. She shares with you that she’s got a stable and secure job but might be interested in contributing to the success of your organization. Without hesitation or question, you decide that this is the person you’re looking for and an employment relationship is formed. Who didn’t hear about Yahoo’s situation with recent hire Scott Thompson when it was disclosed six months after the hiring that Thompson may not have had the qualifications set forth on this curriculum vitae.

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DUMB AND DUMBER: GET SMART ABOUT SERIOUS INCOMPETENCE

Every employer has a movie or two in the making based on the outrageous tales of its most incompetent employees.

Maybe the employee harmed a patient, lost a million dollars, angered a valued client, missed a critical deadline, or did something so dumb it put the company’s reputation at risk. Once an employee has demonstrated such incompetence, the employer usually loses confidence in the employee’s ability to do the job and is keen to terminate employment.

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WHOEVER SAID ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER? THINGS TO CONSIDER ABOUT INNOCENT ABSENTEEISM BEFORE TERMINATION

One of the most frustrating, costly and challenging issues facing employers is chronic absence of employees. Culpable absenteeism, or absenteeism within the employee’s control, may very well constitute cause for dismissal, but this article focuses on termination of employees for innocent absenteeism, particularly caused by illness, disability, or other protected grounds under human rights legislation.

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LIAR, LIAR: DEALING WITH DISHONEST EMPLOYEES

Clarence Darrow is an unlikely inspiration for an employer-focused article about dishonest employees. However, Darrow captures a key truth about the employment relationship: the difference between honest and dishonest behaviour in the workplace isn’t easily discernible and can seriously impact your business.

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IT’S ALL IN THE ATTITUDE: INSOLENCE & INSUBORDINATION

One of the most challenging issues in the workplace is dealing with bad attitude and employees refusing to perform the work for which they were hired. Disruptive behaviour can take on many forms: outright refusal to carry out work, manifest non-performance, inappropriate comments, persistent complaints and non-verbal communication expressions of dissatisfaction (i.e., eye rolling, sighing, etc.). Employers dealing with employees who have a negative and disruptive attitude often consider dismissal for insubordination and insolence. What exactly are those two concepts?

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JUST CAUSE, DUTY OF FIDELITY AND BREACH OF TRUST

Every employee, at every level, owes a duty of fidelity to their employer. Although the extent of this duty depends on the particular circumstances of the employment relationship, all employees have a duty to act in a manner consistent with the employer’s interests (i.e. duty of loyalty). Where the conduct of an employee is dishonest and inconsistent with the employer’s interests, the trust in the employment relationship can be compromised and can amount to just cause for dismissal.

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TERMS OF “ENDEARMENT”: SEXUAL HARASSMENT AS JUST CAUSE FOR DISMISSAL – SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE COURTS

Sexual harassment is prohibited under all human rights legislation in Canada and employers have a duty to protect employees against sexual harassment in the workplace. This may, in certain circumstances, require dismissing an offending employee. Failing to protect an employee against sexual harassment by a co-worker may also lead to a constructive dismissal claim against the employer. For the purpose of this article, we look specifically at the issue of when an employee can be terminated for just cause when there is proven sexual harassment.

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Client Update: Nova Scotia announces changes to defined benefit pension funding

March 13, 2019

Level Chan and Dante Manna On March 12, 2019, the Nova Scotia legislature introduced long anticipated amendments to the Pension Benefits Act (“PBA”) which, according to a statement by Finance Minister Karen Casey, are aimed…

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Client Update: Supreme Court rules bankrupt companies cannot walk away from their environmental liabilities in Redwater decision

March 6, 2019

Julia Parent and Graham Haynes In the long-awaited decision in the case of Orphan Well Association v Grant Thornton Ltd, the Supreme Court of Canada held that end-of-life environmental cleanup obligations imposed by Alberta’s provincial…

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Client Update: Richards Estate sets the limits on actions against LTD insurers

March 6, 2019

Michelle Chai & Jennifer Taylor Justice Ann Smith of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia recently dismissed an action against a disability insurer for being out of time. The case, Richards Estate v Industrial Alliance…

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Client Update: Outlook for the 2019 proxy season

February 28, 2019

In preparing for the 2019 proxy season, you should be aware of some regulatory changes and institutional investor guidance that may impact disclosure to, and interactions with, your shareholders. This update highlights what is new…

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Client Update: New regulation under New Brunswick’s Occupational Health and Safety Act tackles workplace violence and harassment – coming into force April 1, 2019

February 7, 2019

Chad Sullivan and Bryan Mills New Brunswick has recently introduced a new regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act on the topic of problematic workplace conduct. The change will bring New Brunswick in line…

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Client Update: Not a “token gesture”: Nova Scotia Court of Appeal confirms deductibility of future CPP disability benefits from tort damages

January 18, 2019

Jennifer Taylor In an important decision for the auto insurance industry, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal has confirmed that future CPP disability benefits are indeed deductible from damages awarded in Nova Scotia cases for…

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Client Update: Change is the only constant – Bill C-86 changes in federal labour and employment regulation

January 18, 2019

Brian Johnston, QC and Matthew Jacobs Bill C-86, enacted as SC 2018, c. 27, will effect massive changes upon how federal labour and employment relations are regulated. They come into effect in 2019 with staggered…

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2018 Year in Review: Atlantic Canada Labour & Employment Law Developments

January 17, 2019

We can all make 2019 a success by building on the year that was. For employers, 2018 was a year of many notable developments in labour and employment law across the country. We saw Ontario…

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Client Update: Atlantic Canada pension and benefits countdown to 2019

December 28, 2018

Level Chan and Dante Manna As 2018 comes to an end, we countdown some pension and employee benefits developments in the last year that we anticipate may lead to developments in 2019. Discrimination in benefits…

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Client Update: Canada’s Proposed Cannabis Edibles, Extracts and Topicals Regulations Revealed

December 21, 2018

Kevin Landry The first look at regulations for cannabis edibles, extracts and topicals has arrived. The Federal Government has opened a 60-day consultation period respecting the strict regulation of additional cannabis products. Notice of the consultation was accompanied…

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