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Safety v. Privacy: Finding The Balance With Video Surveillance

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Arbitrator Ken Saunders' recent decision in Lafarge Canada Inc. v. Teamsters, Local Union No. 213 (In-Cab Camera Grievance), [2018] B.C.C.A.A.A. No. 51 (Saunders) is instructive for employers considering the use of video surveillance in their workplace. Read More...

5 steps to conquer impostor syndrome

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“Fake it ‘til you make it.”

It is a phrase we have all told ourselves at some point in our careers. What we seem less capable of telling ourselves is, “I’m in the room for a reason.”

We all want attention and validation from those around us, and the feelings of worthiness that come with it. As children, we may have stomped our feet or thrown things on the ground to satisfy this urge. But as an adult, things are quite different—not just because we have grown up (plenty of adults still throw tantrums to get what they want) but because our impulse for belonging and our openness in sharing it is no longer socially acceptable.

We live in a world where it is not ok to feel unworthy, and we are taught never to express feeling not good enough for the attention of others. And so, we bury these feelings deep.

Yet, these feelings—which for many of us manifest as impostor syndrome—exist in almost everyone.

In the workplace, impostor syndrome can be particularly prevalent among women and people of color, no doubt the legacy of long-standing barriers signaling an actual lack of belonging. But there are ways to combat the sometimes paralyzing feelings of self-doubt that can undermine your day, if not your career.

At Justwomen, the Justworks event series I lead, accomplished women entrepreneurs are brought together and encouraged to vocalize challenges like this and work through them. At a recent Justwomen gathering in Los Angeles, we dove into how to overcome feelings of not belonging, in a discussion led by Angélica S. Gutiérrez, a business professor at Loyola Marymount University.

We came up with five actionable steps to transform “I’m not good enough” into “I know what I’m doing” and realize your full potential.
Read More...

Ontario Court Pushes The Envelope With 30 Month Reasonable Notice Award In Employment Cases

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Until recently, employers could be reasonably assured that Canadian courts would limit a dismissed employee's entitlements to reasonable notice at common law to a maximum of 24 months. However, cases where exceptional circumstances have been found to justify notice periods in excess of 24 months have been appearing with increased frequency – especially in Ontario.

A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has sent a strong message that Ontario courts continue to be willing to push the envelope in extending notice periods beyond 24 months. In
Dawe v. Equitable Life Insurance Company of Canada, the Court awarded 30 months of reasonable notice to a dismissed employee, but "felt this case warranted a minimum 36 month notice period" had the employee requested it. Read More...

Supreme Cpourt rules teacher's secret videos of students breach privacy, constitute criminal voyeurism.

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"The accused was an English teacher at a high school. He used a camera concealed inside a pen to make surreptitious video recordings of female students while they were engaged in ordinary school-related activities in common areas of the school. Most of the videos focused on the faces, upper bodies and breasts of female students. The students were not aware that they were being recorded by the accused, nor did they consent to the recordings. A school board policy in effect at the relevant time prohibited the type of conduct engaged in by the accused.

The accused was charged with voyeurism under s. 162(1) (c) of the Criminal Code. That offence is committed where a person surreptitiously observes or makes a visual recording of another person who is in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy, if the observation or recording is done for a sexual purpose. At trial, the accused admitted he had surreptitiously made the video recordings. As a result, only two questions remained: whether the students the accused had recorded were in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy, and whether the accused made the recordings for a sexual purpose. While the trial judge answered the first question in the affirmative, he acquitted the accused because he was not satisfied that the recordings were made for a sexual purpose. The Court of Appeal unanimously concluded that the trial judge had erred in law in failing to find that the accused made the recordings for a sexual purpose. Nevertheless, a majority of the Court of Appeal upheld the accused’s acquittal on the basis that the trial judge had also erred in finding that the students were in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy. The Crown appeals to the Court as of right on the issue of whether the students recorded by the accused were in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy."

The S.C.C. (9:0)
allowed the appeal and entered a conviction. Read More...

Supreme Court rules bankruptcy trustees can't walk away from abandoned oil wells

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The requirements of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the province of Alberta’s regime concerning the cost of remedying the environmental effects of abandoned oil wells can co-exist, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled today.

The 5-2 decision overturned the Alberta appellate court decision in allowing the appeal of the Orphan Well Association and the Alberta Energy Regulator against Grant Thornton Limited, the receiver and trustee in bankruptcy for a bankrupt oil and gas producer.

“The big takeaway is that it’s a win for the regulator but a loss for secured creditors,” says Jeremy Opolsky, a commercial litigator at Torys LLP in Toronto. “This decision effectively puts creditors at the back of the line; in many cases, including this one, they recover nothing at all, including their investment. The [Alberta] Court of Appeal called it replacing ‘polluter pays’ with ‘third-party pays.’”


At the heart of the case was what happens with respect to obligations under a provincial regulatory scheme — in this case, Alberta’s scheme with respect to oil and gas licensees — when bankruptcy proceedings are initiated under the federal Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

Redwater Energy Corporation is a bankrupt company that held licences in oil and gas properties. Those properties included “orphan wells” that are at the end of their lives and no longer producing oil. The cost of remediation for disclaimed wells can exceed their value, and the company’s receiver and subsequently its trustee in bankruptcy, Grant Thornton, sought to disclaim the bankrupt’s interest in those wells but to sell the valuable assets.

The Alberta Energy Regulator has end-of-life rules on how a spent well must be rendered environmentally safe. Disclaimed wells become the responsibility of the Regulator and the Orphan Well Association. In this case, the Regulator opposed the trustee’s disclaimer on the basis that the trustee had to comply with the end-of-life obligations prior to any distribution to the creditors. The Regulator issued abandonment and remediation orders in respect of the wells that had been disclaimed, but the trustee did not comply with the orders.

The Regulator and the Association sought compliance with the remediation orders from the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. The trustee brought a cross-application for approval of the sale of some assets, and a ruling on the constitutionality of the Regulator’s position.

In today’s decision in
Orphan Well Association v. Grant Thornton Ltd., the majority of the Supreme Court found that the requirements of the BIA and the Alberta regime could co-exist, and that the Regulator’s use of its statutory powers did not trigger federal paramountcy; under Canadian constitutional law, this is the rule that federal law prevails, and applies when there is a provincial law and a federal law which are each valid but inconsistent or conflicting. Read More...
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