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BC to reinstate Human Rights Commission

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

The new Provincial government announced its intention to reinstate the Human Rights Commission, fifteen years after it was eliminated in favour of a direct-access model. In addition to creating an agency that will proactively address human rights issues, it may also see the reintroduction of a more robust complaint screening method whereby complaints are investigated prior to adjudication. 

BC Human Rights Tribunal reviews social media request for legal advice to determine if communication privileged

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

In Hov v. School District No. 43 and another, 2017 BCHRT 162, the complainant sought disclosure of a conversation conducted via Facebook Messenger by an individually named respondent, in which the respondent sought, and seemingly obtained, legal advice from an Ontario lawyer.

The respondents claimed solicitor-client privilege over the communications but the Tribunal ordered the conversations to be disclosed directly to the Tribunal so they could assess if the documents should be protected by privilege. The Tribunal's rationale was that there was an insufficient description of the communications and they were unable to determine if they should be protected. 

Interestingly, the lawyer affirmed by affidavit that he was was providing legal advice within the communications. Query whether providing details of the communications between a lawyer and their client would undermine the underlying claim to privilege. 

Business Council of BC report foresees more precarious work, greater income inequality in the future

Topics: - Workforce Trends
Jurisdiction: - All - British Columbia
Sector: - All

The Business Council of British Columbia ("BCBC") has released a report on, "Preparing Canada's Workforce for the Next 150: Part One - Government Driven Solutions" (posted July 5, 2017).

The BCBC states in the report that, based on its reading of the policy and academic literature, these are three reasonable projections of what the labour market is expected to look like in the decades ahead:

  1. employment will be less secure, as we shift from stable, predictable employment to more precarious work.
  2. greater polarization between skilled and non-skilled workers, which in turn tends to aggravate overall income inequality. 
  3. declining quality of jobs, meaning more people are working part-time instead of full-time (often not by choice), more are self-employed, and more are engaged in relatively low-paid work.

The report goes on to review the "levers" that government can use to address these trends, which include investing in the right kinds of education and skills development and continuing to support investment in STEM-related occupations (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science), and the industries that rely on STEM and related technical skills.

The full report can be viewed at the link below.

Andres Barker now writing posts for www.greggowe.com

I am very happy to announce that Andres Barker is now writing posts for www.greggowe.com.

Andres is an in-house labour and employment lawyer with the Health Employers Association of British Columbia. Prior to that he was in private practice with Kent Employment Law.

Andres' most recent post is about the BC Court of Appeal's decision in Lau v. Royal Bank of Canada, 2017 BCCA 253 and is entitled, "BC Court of Appeal affirms medical evidence not required to prove aggravated damages".

Stay tuned for our upcoming re-launch of the website!

BC Court of Appeal affirms medical evidence not required to prove aggravated damages

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

In Lau v. Royal Bank of Canada, 2017 BCCA 253, the British Columbia Court of Appeal overturned a $30,000 aggravated damages award attached to a wrongful dismissal judgment. During the initial trial the plaintiff gave evidence of the effects the termination had on his mental well-being but presented no medical evidence to substantiate his claims of mental distress. The court found the plaintiff was not harassed, scolded or or otherwise mistreated, and his testimony did not provide a sound basis for finding he suffered injury beyond the hurt feelings and distress that accompany any termination.

This decision affirms several important points surrounding mental distress claims in wrongful dismissal actions: actual bad faith conduct is a critical element of an award of aggravated damages; mental distress claims do not need to be accompanyed by proof of a psychiatric illness; and a plaintiff's own testimony absent medical corrobation is a valid consideration for the court. 

Probation clause could not be relied on where employment offer rescinded

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia
Sector: - Media

In Buchanan v. Introjunction Ltd., 2017 BCSC 1002, the BC Supreme Court ruled that a defendant could not rely on a probation clause to justify early termination where the offer of employment was rescinded after the contract was entered into, but before the official first day of employment. The court found that the probation clause had not yet taken effect as employment had not started. Additionally, there was no means for the employer to have assessed the employee’s performance and terminated them for lack of suitability. The court awarded the plaintiff damages of six weeks’ salary.