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As a teenager, Toronto labour and employment lawyer Stefan Rosenbaum's part-time job as a grocery store cashier in Winnipeg gave him an early taste of workplace issues that now inform his main practice area.

“At a really young age, I realized the benefits a union — and an understanding of your rights as an employee — could bring,” says Rosenbaum, an associate at Shibley Righton LLP, the full-service, mid-sized Toronto firm where he articled in 2015-16. “You had somebody you could go to. When you have a union, they’re always looking out for you.”

He later had the eye-opening experience of working as a manual labourer in Fort McMurray, the heart of Alberta’s oil sands, for a seismic exploration company, where he and other employees were encouraged to work more than 50 days in a row.

“There is very little regulation. It’s just so far removed geographically, and completely run on an ad-hoc basis,” Rosenbaum tells AdvocateDaily.com. “So, it gives you a glimpse of what happens when things are done that way, and when people may not know their rights.”

While he particularly enjoys employment and labour cases, Rosenbaum handles a range of issues in his general litigation practice.

“I’ve gotten pretty much everything,” he says, including municipal and professional liability and commercial litigation cases.

One notable case was acting for a pension fund in South America that was defrauded of approximately $45 million by several parties, including some in Ontario.

This is an excerpt of an article that appeared on AdvocateDaily.com.  To read the rest of the story please click here.

Date_Published
2017-08-18
Description

There are no hard and fast timelines about how long an employee on sick leave can be off work, Toronto labour and employment lawyer Deborah Howden tells AdvocateDaily.com.

“Extended absences can cause difficulty for employers,” says Howden, a partner with Shibley Righton LLP. “The question is when can they pull the plug and say: ‘This employment relationship is over.’

“Based on what I hear from employers, and employees for that matter, many think it’s a two-year timeframe. I believe I know where that’s coming from — the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act,” she says.

That legislation covers work-related injuries and illnesses and specifies that companies have a two-year timeframe to re-employ injured workers.

But that doesn’t apply to everything, Howden advises.

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared on AdvocateDaily.com.  Please click here to read the complete story.

Date_Published
2017-08-16
Description

In this recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal, the court confirmed that the cost of installing or upgrading a security system can be recovered as a chargeback against the owner whose actions caused the condominium corporation to install the cameras.

In this dispute, the condominium's stairwells were being damaged and vandalised by graffiti. The condominium corporation needed to find out who was causing the damage so that the condominium could put an end to the behaviour and recover the cost of repairing the damage. Unfortunately, the condominium was unable to catch the offender and did not know who was responsible for the damage. The condominium installed security cameras so that it could monitor the stairwells.

The security footage revealed that tenants of a residential unit were vandalising the stairwells. The condominium started an action to evict the tenants and recover its costs. The tenants moved out shortly thereafter, and the condominium then sought to recover all of the costs it incurred from the owners of the unit in which the tenants resided.

The unit owners admitted they were responsible to pay for damage caused by their tenants but objected to many of the charges. In particular, the owners objected to reimbursing the condominium for the $15,000 spent installing security cameras and upgrading surveillance equipment.

There has previously been some debate as to whether the cost of installing or upgrading security systems can be charged back against unit owners. While many condominium corporations try to recover these types of costs from owners, unit owners typically object to the charges. Owners often claim that changes to security systems are upgrades to the common elements which should be paid by all unit owners.

It is true that individual unit owners are typically not liable to pay for upgrades to common elements; unit owners can only be required to reimburse the condominium for costs reasonably incurred to enforce the rules.

The Court of Appeal ordered the unit owners to pay all costs associated with the upgrades to the security system, including the cost of installing cameras in the stairwells. The court confirmed that improvements to a security system are not "upgrades" to the common elements if the improvements were required in order to enforce the rules. The court held that in this case, the cost of installing security cameras was necessary to permit the condominium to enforce the rules.

This decision is good news for condominium corporations. It reinforces the principle that all owners should not be required to pay costs attributable to conduct for which one unit owner is responsible. Also, by making owners accountable for the conduct of their tenants, it will force owners to be more careful when screening prospective tenants.

Date_Published
2017-08-08
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