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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CANADIAN EMPLOYMENT LAW TODAY MORE CASES COMPILED BY JEFFREY R. SMITH ...continued from page 1 helping students who didn't attend class regularly catch up. She had another dispute with the community's education authority over her accommodation. She was asked to move to another residence due to a shortage of rooms and Anderson wanted the authority to pay for her cable and telephone fees. She also complained she had allergies that were aggravated in the new residence, but nothing was done. Anderson had an argument with the chief administrative officer (CAO) of the education authority during which she threatened to resign. On June 23, 2011, Anderson wasn't at school, so the principal called her at home. Though the school year didn't end until the next day, Anderson said there were no students at the school so she was home packing. She was told to call in whenever she wasn't going to be at work. The next day, Anderson was given a reprimand for abandoning work. She became upset at the principal and yelled at her. The principal felt threatened and tried to leave, so Anderson calmed down. The same day, Anderson exchanged angry words with the CAO, who then terminated her employment Anderson was informed her contract for the following school year was being revoked. Though the termination provision in her contract required one month's notice or pay in lieu, Anderson was paid until the end of her existing contract on Aug. 14. Anderson filed an unjust dismissal complaint denying threatening behaviour towards the principal and that she felt harassed and bullied by the principal and the education authority. The adjudicator found a "serious lack of communication" between Anderson, the principal and the CAO, of which both sides were at fault. The education authority should have given more consideration to Anderson's allergy concerns and Anderson should have considered the authority's financial situation, said the adjudicator. Though Anderson had altercations with both the principal and CAO in which she acted "aggressive and threatening" and skipped work one day, these were not enough to add up to just cause for dismissal, said the adjudicator. The education authority was ordered to pay Anderson five days' wages required under the Canada Labour Code for someone with her short service. The adjudicator dismissed Anderson's claim for additional compensation for lost wages from September 2011 to when she found a new job in November 2011, since more than a month's notice was appropriate for the "relatively short period" Anderson worked for the education authority. See Anderson and Attawapiskat First Nation (YM27079351), Re, 2013 CarswellNat 3141 (Can. Adjud.). I EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS: Laundering uniforms not employer's responsibility A MANITOBA university does not have to compensate its caretaking employees for the cost of laundering their uniforms, despite the fact it compensates security staff for such expenses, an arbitrator has ruled. The University of Manitoba had a clause in its collective agreements with both its caretaking employees and security staff that stated: "The employer may require the employee to wear a uniform or other special article while performing duties and the employer shall provide and maintain same without deduction from the employee's salary." The university paid for and arranged for the laundering of security uniforms, but caretaking staff were expected to wash their own. The union for the caretaking employees filed a grievance claiming the university violated the collective agreement by not following the uniform clause and providing for maintenance of their uniforms. Though the wording of the clauses was the same, the university maintained it was different for security staff because their uniforms required dry cleaning. Caretaking staff had uniforms that were easy to wash at home a little cost. All employees received more uniforms when deemed necessary. The union also said employees had raised concerns that they didn't have enough uniforms and they had to be washed more frequently, increasing laundry costs. Some employees also had to do "dirty jobs" which soiled their uniforms more quickly and warranted more washing, particularly since the university required employee uniforms to be "clean and wrinkle free every shift." This increased laundry cost ultimately resulted in deductions to employee salaries, which was contrary to the collective agreement, said the union. The union argued caretaking employees should receive additional uniforms and $20 per week to cover costs of washing them, or else the university should take over laundering of uniforms. The arbitrator noted the collective agreement clearly stated that employees were responsible for the "reasonable care" of their uniform. Regular laundering could be considered part of this care, said the arbitrator. The arbitrator also found the university had a different arrangement with security staff because the latter's uniforms required dry cleaning and it would not be a reasonable expectation to have those employees have to look after such tasks on their own. Additionally, food service employees at the university — who were part of the same union as the caretaking staff — had laundered their uniforms for many years without complaint by the union, which established past practice that had been accepted by both sides, said the arbitrator. In addition, the collective agreement didn't specify a specific number of uniforms that the university had to provide for employees, nor did it say employees had to purchase extra uniforms. Therefore, there was no requirement for the university to provide any more uniforms than it already did, said the arbitrator. The grievance in relation to the cost of laundering, alterations and number of uniforms for caretaking employees was dismissed. See University of Manitoba and CAW, Local 3007 (11-15), Re, 2013 CarswellMan 359 (Man. Arb.). Published by Canadian HR Reporter, a Thomson Reuters business 2013 CELT 7

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