The Three Most Important Ontario Employment Law Decisions of 2020

December 24, 2020

This year has seen quite a number of highly influential Ontario employment law decisions. It seems that not even COVID-19 can slow the progress being made by the Courts to ensure workers across Ontario are being treated fairly.

With the holiday season upon us, we have a rare opportunity to reflect on the events of the year. With so many decisions effecting Ontario employment law, it was difficult to narrow down the list to only three. That said, I had a job to do. And so, I hope you enjoy this infographic.

Click on it to enlarge or download and share.

If you are looking for some further reading, all of the cases discussed herein are publicly available at or you can read my earlier articles on these cases:

For those of you who are visually impaired, I set out the content from my graphic below for your convenience.

The 3 Most Important Ontario Employment Law Decisions of 2020

A review of 2020’s major changes to Ontario Employment Law

Life as we knew it ground to a halt after one of the most notable years in recent history. But not so for the development of Ontario Employment Law.

2020 has seen quite a number of new developments benefiting employees working across the Province of Ontario.

Business owners and HR professionals have had their work cut out for them with the most important decisions of 2020 impacting various provisions in Ontario Employment Contracts.

The Decisions

  1. Waksdale v Swegon
  2. Rutledge v Canaan
  3. Heller v Uber

Waksdale v Swegon

Ontario Employers Need to Termination Provisions

In June 2020, the Ontario Court of Appeal held that if any portion of a termination provision was contrary to the Employment Standards Act, then the entire provision fails. As a result, many previously valid clauses concerning ‘without cause’ dismissals were invalidated because of poor language in the ‘for cause’ provisions. The employer is seeking leave to be heard before the Supreme Court of Canada, so only 2021 will tell whether the Waksdale decision is here to stay.

Rutledge v Canaan

If a termination provision could violate the ESA then it is void

Although not a departure from existing law, the Ontario Court confirmed that if a termination provision had even a remote possibility of violating the ESA at somepoint in the future then it was void ab initio (void from the beginning) and, therefore, not enforceable. In this case, the Court held it was possible that Mr. Rutledge would cease being a construction worker in the future and therefore be entitled to more notice than set out in his employment contract.

Heller v Uber

Arbitration Clause was Unconscionable

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of Uber Driver’s in finding that the arbitration provision contained in Uber’s terms of service were unconscionable. Justice Brown in his concurring judgment held that the arbitration clause was invalid because it undermined the rule of law and was contrary to public policy.

Infographic summarizing the 3 most important Ontario employment law decisions of 2020.

Justin W. Anisman

Anisman Law

Justin W. Anisman is an Employment Lawyer and principal of Anisman Law. Justin advises both companies and individuals in all aspects of employment law including wrongful dismissal, human rights and discrimination.

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Contact Justin W. Anisman, the author of this blog, about any employment law related questions or issues you may be facing.


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