Q&A: Wrongful Dismissal from Employment

Q&A: Wrongful Dismissal from Employment

Q&A is a recurring series on the Vey Willetts LLP blog. The aim is to provide quick answers to questions we commonly encounter in our day-to-day practice of employment law. In this edition, we focus on wrongful dismissal from employment.

Secret recordings in the workplace: a review of legal and practical consequences

Secret recordings in the workplace: a review of legal and practical consequences

A common question employment lawyers are asked (by both employees and employers) is whether it is legal to make secret recordings while at work. A variety of circumstances may provide the motive for such action. An employee concerned they are being bullied may want to record proof of harassing comments made to them. Likewise, a supervisor may wish to secretly record the contents of a disciplinary meeting to safeguard themselves against future allegations of what was said.

{UPDATE} Off-Duty Conduct and Discipline: The FHRITP Case

In May 2015 we wrote on a major news story about off-duty conduct coming out of Toronto:

This week a media firestorm was sparked over comments made by a Hydro One employee (Shawn Simoes) to Shauna Hunt, a CityNews Television Reporter, outside a Toronto F.C. game. Shortly after the televised exchange, Hydro One made the decision to terminate Simoes' employment.

As we noted at the time, while Mr. Simoes' public conduct was abhorrent, it was not clear that Hydro One had just cause to fire its employee for actions not directly tied to the workplace.

Off-Duty Conduct and Discipline: The FHRITP Case

This week a media firestorm was sparked over comments made by a Hydro One employee (Shawn Simoes) to Shauna Hunt, a CityNews Television Reporter, outside a Toronto F.C. game. Shortly after the televised exchange, Hydro One made the decision to terminate Simoes' employment.

Mr. Simoes was present when another man yelled into Ms. Hunt's Microphone during a live broadcast, "F__k her right in the p___y." Yelling this phrase, abbreviated to FHRITP, was popularized in a series of fake news reports in early 2014. Ms. Hunt, visibly upset at this act, challenged Mr. Simoes and his friends who had stood close by. Mr. Simoes did not repeat the phrase but said on live television to Ms. Hunt that what had transpired was "f____ hilarious." Before adding "you're lucky there's not a f___ vibrator here."

What is 'Just Cause' for Dismissal?

There is a reason that Canadian courts refer to just cause for dismissal as the "capital punishment of employment law." The implications can be grave. If you are fired for just cause, you will likely face a number of problems. These can include your former employer refusing to provide severance, Service Canada denying your application for Employment Insurance ("EI") benefits and potential negative work references while seeking re-employment.

Crime at work: The sometimes criminal consequences of workplace misconduct

Misconduct at work is typically met with discipline or, if particularly bad, perhaps dismissal. There are occasions, however, where employee misconduct will also merit criminal charges. One such high profile example is R. v. Cole where Mr. Cole, a high school teacher, was found to have stored nude and semi-nude photos of an underage female student on his work-provided laptop. Mr. Cole lost his job and was charged with possession of child pornography.

A more recent criminal case that was borne out of workplace misconduct, and resulted in termination and criminal charges, is R. v. Dewan. This case came before the Ontario Court of Appeal in October 2014.