Employment disputes can involve a variety of different areas of the law. Most employment issues revolve around the principles of contract. However, an employment dispute will also often include issues of human rights, insurance, workplace safety and pensions. Compensation for an employee can come from any one, or several, of these areas of the law.
The recent case of Zelsman v. Meridian Credit Union demonstrates the importance of not focusing on one area of the law while overlooking another. In that case the Plaintiff, who had been dismissed from her employment, applied for long-term disability benefits from her employer’s insurer and also filed a claim against her employer with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. The human rights claim was eventually settled. As is typical in such settlements minutes of settlement were signed by both parties. In the minutes of settlement the Plaintiff gave up certain rights in exchange for compensation from her former employer.
After the human rights claim was settled, the Plaintiff continued to advance her application for long-term disability benefits. Eventually, the insurer discovered that the minutes of settlement from the human rights claim specially addressed the Plaintiff’s entitlement to long-term disability benefits. On that basis the insurer denied the Plaintiff’s application for long-term disability benefits. The Plaintiff brought a motion disputing the insurer’s position but was unsuccessful. The court concluded that the minutes of settlement from the human rights dispute prevented the Plaintiff from making a claim for long-term disability benefits.
This case is an example of that fact that an employee may have multiple overlapping rights and the consequences of settling one dispute before another is may not always be clear.
Based in Kanata, the law firm of Connolly Nichols Allan & Snelling provides corporate & commercial, real estate, family, and civil litigation services (including employment, personal injury, and insurance law) in Ottawa and the surrounding area.