Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

Ontario Finds that one Invalid Clause Voids an Entire Employment Termination Agreement

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Feb 03, 2021

The Canadian employment standards acts generally specify a minimum notice period before such terminations (the statutory notice period), and generally allow the employer to pay compensation to the employee instead of giving the employee notice (e.g., Ontario Employment Standards Act (OESA) s. 54-67). This compensation is usually called severance pay; it replaces advance notice of termination (OESA s. 61). In general, the severance pay must equal the salary and benefits that the employee would have earned if permitted to work until the end of the notice period. Courts interpret and defend prohibitions against employment agreements that reduce – “contract out” – termination benefits below these thresholds. 

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Tags: Business & Legal, OESA, Employment Termination

Can a Québec employer force employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination?

Posted by BLG’s Labour and Employment Group on Wed, Dec 16, 2020

Since surfacing in Québec, COVID-19 has had its share of drawbacks for workers and employers, and continues to impose numerous human resource management and administration challenges. Employer obligations and responsibilities regarding occupational health and safety have increased significantly. These include stricter hygiene and maintenance measures in the workplace, social distancing, and wearing masks, among others.

The upsurge in COVID-19 cases seen recently is an unfortunate reminder of its high rate of contagion and its virulence among at risk populations. The global scientific community has been working hard to develop effective vaccines, and for many, such vaccines are the long-awaited solution. In this context, several legal issues arise. For example, could an employer require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19?

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Tags: Business & Legal, Employee Rights, Covid-19, Employment Law, Labour & Employment, Vaccine, Immunization, Quebec

CERB and EI changes: What employers and workers need to know

Posted by BLG’s Labour and Employment Group on Tue, Sep 22, 2020

On August 20, 2020, the federal government announced its transition from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to a simplified Employment Insurance (EI) program to provide income support to those unable to work due to COVID-19.

In addition to simplifying access to EI, the government will introduce three new temporary recovery benefits: the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and the Canada Recovery Benefit.

Subject to parliamentary approval, these programs will be effective starting September 27 and available for one year.

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Tags: Business & Legal, Employee Rights, Covid-19, Employment Law, Labour & Employment, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, Canada Emergency Response Benefit, Employment Insurance, Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit

As Americans with Disabilities Act turns 30, it’s a good time to review accommodations

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Sep 01, 2020

It’s been 30 years since President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. ADA does more than just add “persons with a disability” to the list of groups protected against discrimination by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (based on race, sex, etc.). It is designed not just to protect these individuals’ employment opportunities, but also to ensure their access to public services and accommodation. The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 repudiated several U.S. Supreme Court decisions that had interpreted ADA narrowly, and clarified related issues highlighted by rulemakings and litigation up to that time.


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Tags: Business & Legal, Employee Rights, EEOC, DOJ, ADA, Disability

Supreme Court of Canada Reaffirms Insolvency Court Judge Discretion

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Jul 29, 2020

If you’re a corporate director or officer, you might find your company and/or yourself in need of relief from unmanageable debts. One way to seek relief is through the Companies’ Creditors Insolvency Act (CCAA). CCAA permits a corporation to propose a formal compromise to its creditors, including the compromise of certain claims against the company’s directors. CCAA also allows a corporation to apply to the court in the province with its head office, seeking protection from creditors to allow a compromise to be negotiated. The court has very broad powers to “make any order that it considers appropriate in the circumstances”; in May 2020 the Supreme Court of Canada has just reaffirmed the breadth of that discretion (9354-9186 Québec inc. v. Callidus Capital Corp).1

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Tags: Business & Legal, Business, Bankruptcy, BIA, CCAA, WRA

Alberta Reaffirms Non-Discharge of Director’s Penalty Liability in Bankruptcy

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Jul 15, 2020

If you’re a corporate director or officer, you might find your company and/or yourself in need of relief from unmanageable debts. The federal Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA) governs bankruptcy in Canada for individuals and business entities. If your personal debts include items created because of your activities with the corporation, you may find that some opportunities for relief are expanded but others are eliminated. The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench recently issued a decision refusing to discharge a former director’s responsibility for civil penalties for misdeeds under the provincial Securities Act (Alberta Securities Commission v Hennig).

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Tags: Business & Legal, Business, Alberta Securities Commission, Bankruptcy, BIA

Environmental Protection Agency issues administrative inspection rules

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Jun 03, 2020

Effective March 2, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued rules governing the agency’s administrative civil inspection procedures (40 CFR s. 31.1). These new rules meet a requirement created by President Trump’s Executive Order (EO) 13892 (“Promoting the Rule of Law Through Transparency and Fairness in Civil Administrative Enforcement and Adjudication”), issued October 9, 2019 (I wrote about this EO HERE). The new rules apply to on-site civil inspections conducted by EPA personnel, and to federally credentialled contractors and Senior Environmental Employment (SEE) employees conducting inspections on EPA’s behalf; they do not apply to criminal investigations, nor to state and state-credentialled inspections.

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Tags: Business & Legal, Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, clean water, clean air

Coming out of the COVID-19 lockdown: Issues and challenges facing Canadian employers

Posted by BLG’s Labour and Employment Group on Mon, May 25, 2020

As Canadian employers begin to engage in the “re-opening” of the local economy, they face numerous legal and logistical challenges. Health and safety, privacy and human rights issues abound, and further uncharted waters lie ahead.

BLG’s Labour and Employment team provides a non-exhaustive list below of issues and challenges employers need to keep in mind.

Compliance with employee health and safety and public health requirements

Until effective vaccines and/or therapies for COVID-19 become available, employers will need to continue taking all reasonable steps to ensure that their workplaces are compliant with public health guidelines and requirements as well as their obligations to protect the health and safety of employees. Employers will need to remain current and proactively assess their workplaces, and make modifications in planning for the return of their employees. This will affect physical workspaces and require that employees are properly informed, equipped and monitored to ensure compliance.

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Tags: Business & Legal, Covid-19, Employment, Employment Law, Labour & Employment

Department of Justice Restricts Supplemental Environmental Project Agreements

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, May 20, 2020

Effective March 12, 2020, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) prohibits its US attorneys from entering into settlements in which DOJ lowers penalties for defendants that agree to conduct “supplemental environmental projects (SEPs)”, if the SEP involves payments to a third party. This action is the latest in a series of DOJ moves against SEPs since President Trump took office. The first such step was a June 2017 DOJ management memorandum directing US attorneys NOT to agree to SEPs that include payments to third parties (I wrote about that memo HERE). The second was an August 2019 memorandum restricting use of SEPs in Clean Water Act (CWA) cases against state and local governments, in which DOJ rejected arguments that recent legislation allows them (I wrote about that memo HERE).

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Tags: Business & Legal, Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, clean water, clean air, DOJ, SEP, CWA, Environmental Projects

Dispute management during COVID-19: Moving from litigation to arbitration

Posted by BLG’s Commercial Arbitration Group  on Wed, May 13, 2020

The worldwide spread of the COVID-19 virus has affected commercial operations, logistics and finances across industry sectors. The social, health and economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic puts pressure on the limited resources and budgets of individuals and businesses alike. In such circumstances, we can expect the number of legal disputes to increase now and into the future.

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Tags: Business & Legal, commercial arbitration, disputes, Employment, Employment Law