The Employment Law Show

Employment Law Show 640 Toronto – S9 E51

A headshot of Employment Lawyer Lior Samfiru, Co-founding Partner at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, to the right of the Employment Law Show logo. He hosts the show on radio stations 640 Toronto and 980 CFPL in London, Ontario.

Episode Summary

Employee rights during COVID-19, toxic work environments, demotions, and more on Season 9 Episode 51 of the Employment Law Show on Global News Radio 640 Toronto.

Listen below as an employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP reveals your workplace rights in Toronto and the GTA on the Employment Law Show. He shatters myths and misconceptions about severance pay, terminations, workplace harassment, overtime pay, wrongful dismissal, constructive dismissal, duty to accommodate, independent contractors, and more.

Listen to the Episode

Episode Notes

I have low back pain and my doctor still hasn’t figured out what is wrong. I applied for short-term disability benefits but was denied. My employer now says I have to return to work. What do I do?

Employers do not have the right to determine whether or not an employee with a disability or medical condition is ready to return to work. Only a doctor can determine if an employee is ready to return to the workplace, whether or not there is a diagnosis.

My friend works in construction and his boss has a wall of shame. If an employee makes an error, it’s posted for all the other employees to see. Is this legal?

Employees have the right to work in a healthy and safe work environment that is not toxic. Employees who feel humiliated or harassed can potentially pursue a constructive dismissal claim as they do not feel comfortable working in that position. It is important for employees to communicate their concerns with their employers.

Employees do not have to accept a termination offer on the spot.

This applies to employees prior to the pandemic however there are more employers currently in financial difficulties that could potentially reduce an employee’s severance entitlements. Employers impose deadlines as a pressure tactic to force an employee to accept an initial offer of severance.

My cousin reports to a CEO and was recently told he will be reporting instead to a new position. What advice would you give him?

This could potentially feel like a demotion to an employee; employers do not have the right to demote an employee without their consent. Before agreeing to a new contract or signing a contract, an employee should contact an employment lawyer to ensure they are not giving up any of their rights.

I had a small injury and was advised to take a week of rest. If you work for a private employer are they obligated to have WSIB or some type of insurance?

Employers do have to have WSIB coverage generally with some exceptions. It is important to keep in mind that if an employee is unable to work due to a medical condition, they should adhere to their doctor’s advice. Employees can call WSIB and determine what their coverage in situations will be. An employer is not obligated to pay employees while off on medical leave.

Employees are entitled to their full severance even if the reason for their unemployment is due to COVID-19.

Some employers have used the pandemic as a reason for termination however employee’s severance entitlements have not changed or reduced. It is important for employees to note that the lack of possible future employment could lead to higher severance compensation.

Employees should not accept a termination for cause at face value.

Employers who terminate employees for cause have to be able to prove there was no other solution possible except for termination as well as prove the behaviour exhibited is serious enough to warrant termination. During the pandemic, many employers are aware that by terminating an employee for cause, they do not owe severance.

If I sue my employer for wrongful dismissal, is the settlement I receive taxable?

Settlements from a wrongful dismissal suit are treated as income and so are taxable as income for the year. There are possible additional components to a claim, such as discrimination, human rights damages are tax-free.

My company is reducing my compensation, roughly 25% including an annual bonus. What are my options?

Employers are not permitted to reduced compensation significantly without an employee’s consent as it is a fundamental change to the terms of employment. If bonuses are based on performance and there are difficulties due to COVID-19, the employer could be permitted to withhold the bonus.

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