As we discussed in a blog posted earlier this week, 2019 saw significant employment issues debated in court. The new year will bring even more interesting decisions that will impact and shape workplaces going forward, particularly with respect to employment contracts, wrongful termination, and the accompanying damages.
Here are some developments to look out for in 2020:
Changes to the Maximum Claim in Small Claims Court
Effective January 1, 2020, the maximum claim that can be filled in Small Claims Court will increase from $25,000 to $35,000. This change will make the Small Claims Court a viable option for more employees considering filing a claim against their employer for either wrongful dismissal or constructive dismissal matters. This change will allow more employees with modest claims to save time and expense in the pursuit of damages to which they may be entitled.
If a claim has already been initiated in Small Claims Court, the claim can be amended to reflect the new maximum.
Matthews v. Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd.
In Matthews, the Supreme Court of Canada will consider an employer’s good faith obligation to employees and how it should apply when an employee is forced to leave their employment. The court will decide what happens when an employer breaches their duty of honesty and good faith and whether an employee should receive damages for incentive compensation they would have received, but for the breach. This decision could have a significant impact on how damages are calculated and awarded in employment law cases moving forward.
For more information on the case, check out our blog post “Can an Employer Profit from Treating Employees Unfairly”.
Uber v. Heller
The Uber case involves the legality of a mandatory arbitration clause contained in Uber’s contracts with its drivers. This arbitration clause has been argued as a violation of Ontario legislation, including the Employment Standards Act, 2000, as it prevents an employee from filing a claim in Ontario or pursuing a class-action lawsuit against the company. The Supreme Court of Canada will decide whether Uber should be permitted to restrict employees from pursuing their statutory minimum entitlements through this arbitration clause. Like Matthews, the impact of this decision could change the Canadian workplace. Should this clause be allowable, employees can expect mandatory arbitration clauses to appear in employment agreements across the country.
Employment legislation will also see some new changes. A detailed post about the qualifying legislation and what to expect can be found here.
Takeaway for Employees and Employers
Employers and employees should stay tuned for updates on the developments that will take place in 2020. We anticipate the decisions from the court will have major implications for workplaces across Canada, especially with respect to wrongful termination, unjust termination, constructive dismissal, and the damages that will flow from these claims.
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