Canadian Employment Law Today

November 27, 2013

Focuses on human resources law from a business perspective, featuring news and cases from the courts, in-depth articles on legal trends and insights from top employment lawyers across Canada.

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CURRENT NEWS AND PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR EMPLOYERS Workplace harassment findings get serious University tribunal hands down sanctions against senior staff for harassing junior faculty PM40065782 | BY SARAH VOKEY | in comment or conduct that repeated breached the McMaster University A RECENT, precedent-setting decision of Anti-Discrimination Policy. The a tribunal assembled by McMaster breaches of the policy were largely University in Hamilton, Ont., to hear made possible by the power held by serious allegations of harassment in the senior staff relative to the comthe workplace demonplainants. The breaches strates that harassment of the policy and complaints have traction instances of harassment HARASSMENT and can attract serious perpetrated by the indiconsequences in a postviduals against the comBill 168 world — and outside of human plainants included various comments rights legislation. and conduct as well as — most shockTwo complaints were brought ingly — negatively interfering with before the university tribunal. A group the career progression, including the of complainants included seven faculty tenure and promotion process, of the members and one staff member who complainants, who were perceived alleged that six other faculty members supporters of the senior administra— who were senior and mostly tion. tenured — had harassed and discrimiAs a result of the findings, the tribunated against them nal handed down and were responsithe following The harassment included ble for a poisoned sanctions to the various comments and conduct academic and work as well as negatively interfering harassers: environment that • Although termiwith the career progression existed at the busination of employof the complainants ness school. The ment was complainants — all seriously considwithout tenure at the university — fur- ered by the tribunal, it ultimately recther alleged they had been the subject ommended suspensions — lengthy for of vexatious comments and conduct three of the harassers and reduced for and the alleged harassers had used two of them — without pay, benefits, their positions to negatively impact the privileges or access to the university's complainants' careers and negatively premises during the suspension. influence the work environment. The • A formal written reprimand for a hearing before the tribunal lasted for sixth harasser and the tribunal's decithree months with 21 extended hear- sion to remain in the individual's ing days, 2,694 documents produced record for five years. and 65 witnesses. • Immediate removal from positions of The tribunal found that each individual accused harasser had engaged Continued on page 6 NOVEMBER 27, 2013 In This Issue ASK AN EXPERT: Termination clause • Covering the cost of a doctor's note CASES AND TRENDS: What does your tip-out policy say about you? 2 3 CASE IN POINT: Restaurant owner illegally employed foreign workers 4 YOU MAKE THE CALL: Insubordination or representation? 8 Short-term employee unjustly dismissed, but not much notice required A TEACHER in a First Nations community was unjustly dismissed following altercations with her superiors but received sufficient notice of termination of her contract, a Canada Labour Code adjudicator has ruled. Valerie Anderson was a high school teacher in Attawapiskat, Ont., a First Nations community in the northern part of the province. She began working in February 2010 on a contract valid until August of that year. She later signed a one-year contract starting in August 2010 and, on May 17, 2011, she signed a third contract scheduled to expire in August 2012. In October 2010, Anderson found racial slurs directed towards her on a blackboard at school. Later that same month, two boys directed racial comments towards her. They were suspended for two days and "talked to." Anderson was also involved in a dispute with the school's principal over Continued on page 7

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