Employers, hold on to your wallets (Guest commentary)

Employment law pendulum swings in employees’ favour
By Natalie MacDonald
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/07/2007

On the employment law scene, 2007 could prove to be a very interesting year, particularly in Ontario. In December last year, two significant changes came into force in the province — the abolition of mandatory retirement and sweeping changes to human rights legislation.

The former means no employer may rely on a mandatory retirement policy unless it has a specific bona fide reason for doing so. Further, no employee 65 or older will be without recourse under the province’s Human Rights Code given that the age cap has been eliminated in the legislation.

The latter, in the form of Bill 107, could significantly alter the landscape, but it’s too early to tell how courts will interpret the specific amendments. The most critical change relates to the powers granted to courts when a human rights infringement is brought before them. In the event a court finds an employee has suffered a human rights infringement, the courts have all the same powers available to a human rights tribunal to order both monetary and non-monetary remedies. Whether the ability to reinstate an employee is one of those powers, is yet to be seen. However, in light of the fact human rights infringements may now be brought in concert with a civil action for wrongful dismissal, this will undoubtedly open the floodgates for employees to plead human rights complaints in wrongful dismissal actions and request remedies available both under the code as well as in a wrongful dismissal action.