Canadian Employment Law Today

December 7, 2016

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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PM40065782 Emplo y ment Law Today Canad ad a ian December 7, 2016 No charity for worker with safety concerns BY JEFFREY R. SMITH AN ONTARIO charitable society must pay a former employee $15,000 for dismissing her as a reprisal for the employee's health and safety complaints, the Ontario Labour Relations Board has ruled. Leah Podobnik worked with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Stores, a Roman Catho- lic charitable organization that ran three stores in Ottawa stocked with various types of goods donated by the public and whose proceeds supported summer camps, soup kitchens, and overseas missions. Hired in 2011, Podobnik was a supervisor of the book room at one of St. Vincent's stores downtown, where donated used books were organized for sale in the main store. She was responsible for sorting, assessing, and pric- ing the books, as well as discarding any that were in poor condition. Podobnik initially had as many as four employees plus some volunteers under her supervision, but eventually this was cut to one employee. She also organized commu- nity side projects, such as a children's literary program at a local school and a reading pro- gram for seniors. Since she began working in the book room, Podobnik raised concerns with the society about the air quality, as it was in the base- ment of the store. She wanted the air tested, but this never happened. Early in 2014 there was sewer leakage that infused the room with the odour of sewer gas, even after the leakage was repaired e odour was worst in the elevator, so Podobnik used the staircase to transport books to the main fl oor. ere was no joint health and safety committee at the store. In January 2015, Podobnik's hours were reduced from 40 hours per week to 32 as the society tried to cut costs. In spring 2015, Podobnik had had enough with the air quality in the book room and contacted the Ontario Ministry of Labour to make a health and safety complaint. An inspector assessed the store's basement Harassed employee eyes bigger damage award after dismissal Employer refused accommodation requests and management created poisoned work environment for blinded worker BY JEFFREY R. SMITH THE ONTARIO Court of Appeal has more than doubled the total damages an employ- er must pay for harassment, discrimination, and wrongful dismissal of an employee with a disability due to the egregious nature of its conduct that took place over an extended period of time. Vicky Strudwick was employed for 15 years with Applied Consumer and Clinical Evaluations, a company that recruits people to participate in focus groups based in Mis- sissauga, Ont.. In October 2010, Strudwick became completely deaf due to reasons which weren't clear to doctors, though it was believed to be a virus. Strudwick's supervisor began making work diffi cult for her, often giving her in- structions in a way that prevented Strudwick from reading her lips. After doing this, she Last straw for employer not last straw for absent worker pg. 2 Absenteeism reached extreme levels, progressive discipline needed CREDIT: MONIKA WISNIEWSKA/SHUTTERSTOCK Much ado about the washroom pg. 4 What are a transgender person's rights regarding washroom, dormitory, changing room and locker room access? WORKER on page 7 » EMPLOYER on page 6 » Duty to mitigate means taking full-time hours pg. 7 Employee wanted to work part-time for awhile

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