Employees Win Fewer Than 10% of Ontario Safety-Reprisal Decisions in 2011


[author: ]

Employees won only 2 of 17 reported Occupational Health and Safety Act reprisal cases decided by the Ontario Labour Relations Board in 2011. Employers won the other 15.

The results appear surprising given that when employers think about safety-reprisal cases, they often think about the reverse onus: to win, the employer must prove that any safety issue raised by the employee had nothing to do with any discipline imposed on the employee.

An additional 27 reprisal complaints were reported settled and withdrawn, for a settlement rate of 61%.

In one of the cases in which the employee succeeded, the employee’s hours were crossed off of a work schedule posted the day after she expressed concern about working in front of a recently installed microwave, saying it was dangerous. In the other successful case, the employee refused to paint because his mask had deteriorated and the replacement mask had not yet arrived; the employer then gave him a 10-day suspension.

In a number of the 15 reprisal complaints that were dismissed, the complaint had nothing to do with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and the employee had not even alleged that he or she had made a complaint related to a protected safety right under that Act.

The results suggest that many employees are using the safety-reprisal complaint process to try to deal with workplace issues that are unrelated to safety. That is, many employees may not understand that in order to advance a safety-reprisal complaint, the employee must have raised a safety issue for which he or she claims to have suffered reprisal. Employees’ poor success rate on these cases gives employers more leverage to resolve unsubstantiated complaints in a favourable manner, or at least have the complaints transferred to a more appropriate forum.


Written by:

Published In:

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Dentons | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.