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The Question

A client came into my workplace threatening that he wanted to "speak with me." I fear that he wanted to harm me. I don't believe my employer is taking appropriate steps to protect me. What rights and options do I have regarding my safety?

The Answer

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An employer has an obligation to provide a safe workplace and to protect employees from workplace violence and harassment. This includes threats from members of public. You should report the threat to your employer as an incident of workplace violence. This triggers an obligation to investigate and take steps to protect you.

If there is no action, you can submit a report to the Ministry of Labour in your province, which is responsible for ensuring employers live up to their safety responsibilities.

If your safety is in jeopardy at work, you can also leave the workplace. If the employer does not remedy the possible harm, you may not have to return and may even be entitled to damages while you look for another job.

The Question

I work for a clothing chain that has recently decided to close all its stores across Canada. I have been a part-time employee for over four years and currently have roughly 40 hours' worth of unpaid vacation pay. I was told that no one will be receiving their pay. What are my options and is this legal?

The Answer

Unpaid vacation pay is treated the same as unpaid wages. The employer cannot refuse to pay this to you, even if facing grim financial circumstances. You can complain to your provincial Ministry of Labour or sue in court, depending on the amount you are owed.

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If the company goes bankrupt or into receivership, you can still recover some pay through bankruptcy legislation or through the Wage Earner Protection Program, a federal program that reimburses eligible employees for wages, vacation pay, severance and termination owed by a company that is bankrupt or in receivership.

Daniel A. Lublin is a partner at Whitten & Lublin, representing both employers and employees in workplace legal disputes. E-mail: Dan@canadaemploymentlawyer.com

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About the Author
Globe Careers employment law expert

Daniel is a nationally recognized workplace law expert and a partner at Whitten & Lublin (www.toronto-employmentlawyer.com), where he represents both individual and corporate clients. Daniel frequently writes and appears in the media as a commentator for workplace legal issues. Since 2008, he has been named as one of Canada's top employment lawyers. More

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