Here are the answers to some of the most recent questions about workplace law that have come our way
Employees and employers alike have many questions about workplace law. Here are some of the most recent questions that have come our way as result of questions sent to this column.
Q: Should employers record employee disciplinary and investigation meetings?
A: Ideally, they should record both to ensure that they fully and accurately have records as to what occurred in building up any case for future discipline.
Q: I am a manager and work 80 hours, seven days, every week without being paid any extra money. I know that I am not entitled to overtime, but do I have any claim here?
A: In most provinces, such as Ontario, managers are not entitled to overtime pay. But they have to be a real manager, not managers in title only. In other words, they have to spend virtually all of their time managing rather than performing frontline work.
If you are a manager, you are not entitled to overtime under the Employment Standards Act, which is what you are obviously referring to, if hired to perform a nine-to-five job, with some additional hours as required, you may also have to work the odd evening or weekend, if the job requires, without additional pay.
But if the hours you are working are dramatically in excess of what was originally presented, you are entitled to additional pay for that extra time on what is called a quantum meruit basis, and you would have an excellent claim for that.
Q: Can I deduct wages from an employee for excessively depreciating the value of the company vehicle by his excessive usage and careless handling of it?
A: No employer can deduct any wages from an employee’s pay unless the employee has directly authorized that, in writing, in a way that directly details, in advance, the nature of the deductions being contemplated. Otherwise, employers have to resort to a lawsuit to claim money back.
But to answer your specific question, if an employee is provided with a company car, the employer takes some understandable risk and there would have to be deliberate abuse or gross negligence before an employer would have any recourse.
Q: If I have not signed an employment contract and the employer does not agree to my demands, what is my recourse?
A: There is no recourse. Neither side need agree to significant unilateral changes imposed by the other.
Q: Does an employer have to provide ergonomic adjustments to employee workstations?
A: Employers must accommodate employee disabilities, so must provide this if medically required.
Q: I’ve been working part time for four years at a company, working variable hours per week, but have been assigned work relatively regularly. But for the last month, I have not been called in at all. Do I have any recourse?
A: As a part-time employee, you have a right to be called in on relatively the same basis as usual. If that has suddenly changed, that could amount to a dismissal. I would write to the employer and request an explanation and also ask when you are going to be called in next. If they cannot promise you relatively similar coverage as in the past, or do not even answer, I would sue for wrongful dismissal.
Q: I was charged with a criminal offence but not convicted, and the employer fired me. Do I have any recourse?
A: Regardless of what happens in the criminal matter, and even if the charges are ultimately dropped, if the conduct that caused you to be arrested is antithetical to your role or image in the company, it could be cause for discharge.
In the case of Kelly vs. Linamar, Kelly had been charged with downloading child porn, but had not been convicted as of the date of the dismissal trial. At that trial, the court found he was guilty of downloading child porn and that doing so was in stark contradiction to Linamar’s corporate image, which, as a company, provides considerable monies to children’s charities. Therefore, he was found to be dismissed with cause.
Even if you are not guilty, a company can always fire you as long as it pays wrongful dismissal damages. But if your conduct is such that it is damaging the company’s image, it could be cause for dismissal, as in the Linamar case.