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  • HR Heartbeat: Shoulder checks in the workplace, racial discrimination, and…

HR Heartbeat: Shoulder checks in the workplace, racial discrimination, and…

This week, see what led to an employee being reinstated after they were terminated for shoulder checking their supervisor, an underpayment based in racial discrimination, and another step in the right direction for equality at work.

First published on Friday, Jun 21, 2024

Last updated on Friday, Jun 21, 2024

5 min read

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Welcome to HR Heartbeat, where we give you a rundown of the week's top employment law stories. Stay on the pulse of current trends impacting your business, plus get up-to-the-minute commentary on all things HR and legal.

Brushing shoulders with termination

In a recent case, a B.C. arbitrator ruled that there was no just cause for terminating a long-term employee for shoulder-checking his supervisor. Instead, the employee was rehired and given a six-month suspension.

The employee already had two prior suspensions for misconduct involving inappropriate exchanges with coworkers and impulsive outbursts. The final incident that led to their termination happened when the employee shoulder-checked his supervisor while leaving work to pick up his daughter.

The employee didn't have a good relationship with this supervisor and had complained about them in the past. This incident paired with their muddled history of misconduct led the employer to believe the employee’s actions were intentional and terminated them.

However, the employee's union challenged the dismissal, arguing that the shoulder check was an innocent accident and didn't warrant any discipline. The arbitrator considered the context, including the employee's recent suspensions, and his protective nature towards his daughter due to her serious health issues.

Despite the employer's argument that the employee's behaviour was part of a volatile pattern, the arbitrator stressed the importance of progressive discipline. Turning to progressive discipline instead of automatic termination allows employees to explain their behaviour and address any issues affecting them, such as stress or mental health issues.

In this case, however, the employee and the union did not explain the misconduct and lied during the investigation. They claimed they never discussed the supervisor before the incident, which was a significant factor in the arbitrator's decision to impose a six-month suspension instead of upholding the termination.

If you're dealing with a difficult employee, you need BrightAdvice. Our team of employment relations experts are always available to guide and provide support on managing terminations in line with legislation.

Former Xerox employee finds vindication in discrimination case

A former Xerox Canada employee has received validation from the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission, which found enough evidence to suggest he was discriminated against during his time at the company due to his race.

This decision follows a complaint the employee filed four years ago, alleging he was being paid less than his colleagues because he is Black. Despite performing similar duties to other sales managers, the former employee was paid $10,000 less than his peers per year despite working there for 20 years before resigning in 2019.

The Commission's report highlighted disparities in their salary compared to other managers, supporting his claims of racial discrimination. It recommended an inquiry and referred the matter to the Labour and Employment Board. No hearing dates have been set yet.

Xerox's spokesperson maintains the company's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, stressing that race was never a factor in determining the former employee's salary. However, they didn't make any comments on the pending litigation.

This case highlights how important it is to address racial discrimination in the workplace and why you should have impactful systems in place to promote equity and inclusion.

Our learning management system BrightLearn has comprehensive modules and training to help upskill your staff and give them a better understanding of equality, diversity and inclusion best practices.

B.C. employers must prepare gender pay reports by November 1

British Columbia is stepping up its commitment to pay transparency with new tools and deadlines for employers. As of November 1, 2024, employers with 1,000 or more employees must prepare and post reports about their gender pay gaps.

If you're an employer in this province, the government has made creating reports much easier by introducing the Pay Transparency Reporting Tool. It's completely free to use; all you need to do is upload your data and review for errors. A draft version of your report will be available to download in a few clicks.

Remember to review the "Guidance for Preparing Pay Transparency Reports" to understand what content you need to include in your report, general information about your organization, and any data constraints or limitations.

The pay transparency legislation, introduced in March 2023, mandates that all employers include wage or salary ranges in publicly advertised job postings. Progress on pay transparency has been notable. As of February 2024, data from Indeed shows 49% of Canada-wide job postings included pay details, but in B.C., that number has risen to 76%.

The legislation's scope will expand in stages:

  • By November 1, 2024, to all employers with 1,000 employees or more
  • By November 1, 2025, to all employers with 300 employees or more
  • By November 1, 2026, to all employers with 50 employees or more

As an employer, complying with B.C.'s pay transparency legislation not only promotes fairness and equality in the workplace but also helps you avoid penalties and fines.

That's it for today! Come back next time for more HR news so you stay ahead of major employment law changes.

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