Canadian HR Reporter

September 21, 2015

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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PM40065782 RO9496 September 21, 2015 INSIDE AWARD-WINNING HR We showcase the best of the best in a special section on our National HR Awards Jobs for sale Auctioneering trend extreme twist for unpaid interns page 3 Ordinary magic Resilience can completely change the work experience page 8 Crossing borders Do's and don'ts when it comes to entering the U.S. page 33 page 11 Credit: Mike Blake (Reuters) Emplo y ment Law Today Canad a ian Expert opinions from the best employment lawyers in Canada CELT1504-2015 ad.indd 1 2015-01-09 11:07 AM e do's and don'ts of election season Legal, HR, social media considerations when employees start talking politics at work BY LIZ BERNIER AS AN UNUSUALLY tight elec- tion race nears voting day, it's no surprise many of us have politics on the brain. But just how much politicking goes on in the work- place — and, more importantly, how much should go on? It's a somewhat tricky question simply because there's isn't a whole lot of legal guidance on the issue, said David Whitten, partner at Whitten Lublin in Toronto. In provinces without human rights code protections for politi- cal beliefs, employers can discrim- inate on the basis of politics — as long as it's not linked to religion, he said. "Really, we're looking at a wide open playground. An employer can post as many Liberal, Conser- vative posters as they want around the offi ce; they can go around and try to collect money from people," he said. Generally speaking, employ- ment standards laws don't have much to say on the issue either. " ere is no provision in em- ployment standards legislation (around political rights) other than this right to go vote on voting day," he said. So where should a workplace draw the line when it comes to of- fi ce hours electioneering? Legal landscape e fi rst thing to make sure of is whether or not there are, in fact, provisions for political beliefs in your province's human rights code, said Erin Kuzz, founding partner of Sherrard Kuzz in Toronto. "You have to make sure that you understand the legal landscape in which you're operating. And what I mean by that is, in some provinc- es, human rights legislation actual- ly protects political beliefs… under their human rights code," she said. "For instance, B.C. and Mani- toba do protect political beliefs in their human rights codes, but Ontario doesn't. So if you are an employer looking to understand what you can and can't regulate in the workplace, you'd better start by understanding the legal regime you're working under." ere is also the potential is- sue of workplace harassment, said Kuzz. " e other thing to bear in mind is that most, if not all, provinces have legislation that prohibits ha- rassment — often referred to as anti-bullying legislation. So we've gone beyond the situation where you're prohibited only from ha- rassing someone based on one of the protected grounds under the code, like gender, religion or race — now, in most provinces, you can't harass anyone based on any basis in the workplace," she said. To the extent that a person could characterize his employer as harassing him to vote a certain way, it might fall under occupa- tional health and safety legislation around harassment, said Whitten. 'Bruising workplace' stirs up debate Is Amazon taking the right approach with its tough culture? BY SARAH DOBSON IT WAS a damning article. Out- lining the "bruising workplace" of online retailer Amazon, an Aug. 17 story in the New York Times detailed the unrelenting pace, late hours and secrecy of a work envi- ronment that's "more nimble and more productive but harsher and less forgiving." Workers are encouraged to tear apart each other's ideas in meetings and held to "unreason- ably high" standards. An internal phone directory tells colleagues how to send secret feedback to one another's bosses. Annual "cullings" of staff see losers leaving or fi red while some workers who suff ered from health and personal crises said they were evaluated unfairly or edged out, rather than given time to recover, said the New York Times. "(Amazon) is conducting a lit- tle-known experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers, redrawing the boundaries of what is acceptable," said the article. " e company, founded and still run by Jeff Bezos, rejects many of the popular management bromides that other corporations at least pay lip service to and has instead designed what many workers call WORKERS > pg. 10 Furniture maker closes, cites Bible after union vote Do religious rights trump labour rights? BY SABRINA NANJI A RURAL ONTARIO furniture maker shut its doors last month after employees decided to join a union, saying its religion did not allow for organized labour. Gingrich Woodcraft, a fur- niture manufacturer in Devlin, Ont., a small town that straddles the United States border, is the target of a labour board complaint fi led by Unifor, which organized the company's 25 employees. e workers are mostly cabinetmakers and offi ce and clerical staff . According to court documents filed by the union, employees reached out to Unifor in July con- cerning general dissatisfaction with the way Gingrich operated and managed employees. On Aug . 5, the union filed a certification appli- cation and on Aug. 13, the representation vote was successful. en, on Aug. 17, all employ- ees were terminated by the com- pany's owner Leon Gingrich, who explained the Bible required him to "live peaceably with all men." He said his Mennonite beliefs prevented him from employing a unionized workforce. In a notice to employees on that same day, Gingrich explained the reason behind the closure. "Each of you that work here were made aware in the hiring pro- cess that as an employer, we strive to operate with behaviour based on biblical principles," he said in the letter. "As Christian business owners, our personal beliefs will not allow our conscience the freedom to work with a labour union, as we are required by scripture to 'live HEARINGS > pg. 7 CONFLICTING > pg. 6 Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of, arrives for a media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, on July 8. The company faced both critics and proponents recently when a newspaper article outlined its 'bruising workplace.'

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