Refusal to have background check grounds for worker’s dismissal in Ontario

New employee felt recently announced checks were not a term of her employment
By Ronald Minken
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 01/23/2017
Pendylum’s offices in Richmond Hill, Ont. (Google Street View)

Background checks are a typical part of the hiring process. But what about after the employee is hired — can an employer insist a person consent to a background check? And if she does not consent, can the employee be terminated?

In Covenoho v. Pendylum Inc., the Ontario Superior Court of Justice tackled that issue and determined Pendylum was entitled to terminate Joss Covenoho without cause for refusing to consent to educational and criminal background checks after she had begun work, and that the termination was not an act of bad faith by Pendylum.

Covenoho was hired pursuant to a one-year, fixed-term contract to perform services for one of Pendylum’s clients, Ceridian Canada. Shortly after the hire, Ceridian informed Pendylum that education and criminal background checks were required for Covenoho employees as well as others performing services for Ceridian due to the sensitive nature of the data accessible by these employees.