Advocating Workplace Integrity

Labour Law

We provide employers with workplace mediation and strategic advice on all labour matters arising in unionized workplaces. We also advise workers who believe they are not adequately represented by their unions.

Employment Lawyer Vancouver

We advise employers on all aspects of employment law and provide workplace mediation services.

Human Rights

We advise management as well as unionized and non-unionized employees, on human rights issues in the workplace.

Human Resources Support

We offer employers a range of human resources support including policy development, preparing employee handbooks and performance management.

Training and Coaching

We provide customized training programs and coaching for all levels of staff on a variety of workplace issues.


We help parties resolve their workplace issues in a respectful, productive and cost-effective way.

Workplace Investigations

We have expertise in investigating a wide range of workplace issues and will conduct all investigations in an efficient and timely way.

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It is a pleasure to work with Heather. Drawing on her extensive employment law expertise and experience in human resource management, Heather provides us with thoughtful guidance on a broad range of human resource issues that lead to practical solutions and superior outcomes. She is not only smart and professional, she is compassionate and wise. I would highly recommend her to others.

Mary Prodanovic

Director, Organizational Development & Human Resources, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation

Heather was an incredible resource to the company on our human resource issues, providing insight and workable resolution options based on her extensive experience and knowledge. In addition, Heather was willing to assist us even with short notice at times as she understands the urgency of dealing with human resource issues in a timely and fair manner. Consequently, I would not hesitate in recommending Heather to other companies needing advice and resolution to the complexities of human resource issues.

Kevin Onclin

CEO, Badinotti Net Services Canada Ltd.

I am very comfortable in recommending Heather Hettiarachchi to anyone who is in a labour dispute with an employer. Heather is very thorough , asks the right questions, listens and takes the correct amount of action required to achieve the desired results. I would not hesitate in engaging Heather in the future, should it be required and wish her much success in the future.

Raymond Shoolman

Senior Consultant - Mentor

I worked with Heather when she practiced employment and labour law at BLG. As well, since leaving BLG, I had the opportunity to work with Heather again as she had a client who needed business advice, (and after I retired from the practice of law I established a business advisory company). In the course of my work with this mutual client, I learned from my client the work that Heather was doing for her. It was an extremely delicate, complicated and unusual employment law case, but Heather was able to arrange a settlement that our mutual client found very acceptable. In my opinion, and I have worked with many lawyers, Heather has all the qualities that a client looks for in a lawyer–not only the legal and people skills one expects or hopes for, but an efficient and effective approach that almost always guarantees a successful outcome. I have no hesitation in recommending Heather if you require advice on workplace related matters.

Martin Donner

Business Consultant, Martin Donner Consulting Corp.

Heather worked on a personal file for our family; she was diligent, strategic and creative in all aspects of that work, and was instrumental in bringing a complex matter to a settlement. She worked well with the other parties, and brings a wholly professional approach to her work. We would not hesitate to recommend her to clients as a skilled advocate, who understands both the law and the business aspects of a case.

A Vancouver Resident

Cannabis in the Workplace and Employer Rights

In a recent decision, Aitchison v L&L Painting and Decorating Ltd., 2018 HRTO 238, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) upheld the termination of an employee who was using cannabis at work, ostensibly for medical purposes. Background The employer was...
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Mediating Workplace Sexual Harassment Complaints

On June 11, 2018, Stephen Quinn interviewed Heather Hettiarachchi on the CBC Early Edition on the topic of Mediating workplace sexual harassment complaints. The interview begins at 51:16 on...
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Termination for Off-Duty Conduct

In the recent decision of Klonteig v. West Kelowna (District), 2018 BCSC 124, the BC Supreme considered when an employer could terminate the employment relationship based on off-duty conduct. Background Mr. Klonteig was the Assistant Fire Chief for the City of West...
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Mental Disorder Presumption – BC

The British Columbia Workers Compensation Amendment Act, 2018 (Bill 9) has received Royal assent and is now in effect. This legislation creates a mental disorder presumption for first responders who are exposed to traumatic events as part of their employment. The...
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Medical Cannabis & Undue Hardship

In the recent decision of Lower Churchill Transmission Construction Employers’ Association and IBEW, Local 1620, arbitrator John Roil, QC, dismissed a grievance where an employer, Valard Construction LP (the “Employer”) refused to hire an employee using medical...
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Workplace Incivility

In today’s frenzied world, dominated by the unparalleled use of social media to viciously attack people, incivility appears to be on the rise in society at large, as well as in the workplace. While a rude, uncivil and inconsiderate work environment destroys morale and...
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Can post-employment conduct constitute discrimination?

Is it possible for an employer’s post-employment conduct to constitute discrimination? In BJ Simon and S Simon & Yukon Human Rights Commission v Rhonda Sallows, Owner, White Tornado Cleaning Services, the Yukon Human Rights Board of Adjudication (the...
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Does Income from Second Job Constitute Mitigation?

In a recent decision of the BC Court of Appeal, Pakozdi v. B & B Heavy Civil Construction Ltd., 2018 BCCA 23, the Court clarified when post-termination income from a second job counts as mitigation. BACKGROUND David Pakozdi, the respondent, was an experienced bid...
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Noteworthy employment/human rights cases (BC 2017)

BCHRT v. Schrenk, 2017 SCC 62 In this decision, the SCC expanded the scope of the “workplace” in relation to human rights. This case involved M, a Muslim Iranian descent who worked for Omega and Associates Engineering Ltd., and S, a site supervisor who worked for...
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No settlement, says Human Rights Tribunal

In The Employee v. The Company and the Owner, 2017 BCHRT 266, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) refused to dismiss a complaint despite a settlement agreement between the parties. BACKGROUND The Complainant started working for the Company in May 2017 on...
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Employee’s Duty to Mitigate

When an employee is terminated without cause, the law requires the employee to mitigate his/her loss by diligently searching for alternative employment. In order to discharge this duty, the terminated employee must take steps that a reasonable person would take in the...
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Duty to Accommodate: reasonableness, not perfection

In Adair v. Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission (No. 2), 2017 BCHRT 147, a decision of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) in July of last year, the Tribunal made it clear that the employer’s duty to accommodate, does not extend to perfect...
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Expanded Scope of Workplace Human Rights

In December 2017, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a landmark decision, British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal v. Schrenk, 2017 SCC 62, which expands the scope of workplace human rights protection. Background The Schrenk case involved a human rights complaint made...
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Video Surveillance and Employee Privacy

A very recent decision from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia (OIPC), 2017 BCIPC 58, is a reminder to employers about employee privacy and when it is acceptable to conduct video surveillance. Background In June 2017, a video...
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Managing Employee Performance

Many organizations conduct formal performance reviews, typically once a year. While such reviews can be an invaluable tool for evaluating employees, if done poorly, without preparation, they can be counter-productive and harmful to the organization. For employee...
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Are your restrictive covenants enforceable?

Most companies wish to include restrictive covenants in their employment and contractor agreements. Often, companies want these covenants to be drawn up as broadly as possible and are displeased when advised that a court will not enforce restrictive covenants unless:...
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Discriminatory Action Complaints

Employers have many obligations under the British Columbia Workers Compensation Act (the “Act”) and the related WorkSafeBC Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (the “Regulation”). Employer obligations include providing a safe workplace, establishing a valid...
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Employer’s Duty to Inquire

McNish v. Electronics Boutique Canada and others, 2017 BCHRT 32 (“McNish”) a decision earlier this year by the BC Human Rights Tribunal on an application to dismiss, illustrates an employer’s duty to inquire about the need for accommodation, when it...
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How to Conduct a Workplace Investigation

A poorly conducted workplace investigation can cost an organization a significant amount of money in wrongful dismissal damages and legal fees and also result in considerable negative publicity. Learn how to conduct a workplace investigation effectively by taking our...
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Perils of a Haphazard Workplace Investigation

A workplace investigation that is not done properly can result in significant legal liability for an employer and sometimes, even the investigator. In a recent decision from Ontario, Doyle v Zochem Inc. et al., 2017 ONSC 920 (CanLII), the court ordered an employer who...
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Cocaine addiction not a bar to dismissal

In its recently released decision of Stewart v. Elk Valley Coal Corp, 2017 SCC 30, the Supreme Court of Canada held that an employer had cause to dismiss Ian Stewart, a mine worker, who tested positive for cocaine. Background Information Elk Valley Coal Corp. operated...
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Dismissing a Probationary Employee

It is not uncommon for employment agreements to include a probationary clause. The rationale behind a probationary period is to enable the parties to determine whether a continued employment relationship is viable. While some employees may decide to leave of their own...
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What employers should know about retracting an offer of employment

In Buchanan v Introjunction Ltd., 2017 BCSC 1002, the BC Supreme court made it clear that, in the absence of an express contractual provision to the contrary, an employer can be liable for damages if it retracts an offer of employment that has already been accepted,...
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BC Provincial Elections – Employer Obligations

With BC’s provincial election scheduled to take place on May 9, 2017, it is a good time to remind employers of their obligations in this regard. Employer Obligations Further to the British Columbia Election Act, an employee is entitled to have four consecutive...
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Who is a Dependent Contractor?

Employers are generally familiar with the distinction between an employee and an independent contractor. However, many may not be aware that there is a third category recognized by our courts – that of the dependent contractor. When placed on a continuum, the...
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Changes to Parental Leave

The 2017 budget lays out the Federal Governments plans to extend parental leave and benefits to 18 months. New parents can now choose to take 18 months of leave at a benefits rate of 33% of their average weekly earnings, or 12 months of leave at a benefit rate of 55%...
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Marijuana in the Workplace

The legalization of marijuana has been hotly debated in Canada for some time now and employers are concerned about the impact it could have on the workplace. On November 30 2016, the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, which was tasked with reporting...
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Employment Contracts and Termination Clauses

In Canada, employers are permitted to terminate an employment relationship at any time without cause, provided they give the employee being terminated, notice of termination, or pay in lieu. Contractual Notice If there is a written contract of employment, which...
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Domestic Violence and the Workplace

Few would pause to consider that domestic violence (DV) and the workplace could be connected in some way and that DV can have an impact on the workplace. However, recent  information in this regard, notably a landmark survey launched in 2013 by researchers at the...
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How to build an Inclusive Workplace

If we make an effort to be more mindful of the biases we hold, then we can be more fair, more thoughtful and more respectful in dealing with our co-workers.

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Older Workers – benefits and challenges

While today’s workplace is unique because it is represented by five generations of workers, research indicates that the number of older workers in Canada, is increasing. In 2011, 42.4% of the working-age population in Canada was 45—64 years old and employees over the...
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How to Create a Respectful Workplace

A respectful workplace is more than the absence of discriminatory behavior. In a respectful workplace, each person can contribute his or her best, knowing that these contributions will be valued. In a respectful workplace, employees and management work to support one...
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Unjust Dismissal – Federally regulated Employees

The Canada Labour Code Federally regulated employees are subject to the provisions of the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”). Section 240( 1) of the Code permits a federally regulated employee who is dismissed to make a written complaint to an inspector if...
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Useful Links

Set of useful links about workplace and related legal aspects

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Transgender and the Workplace

A growing number of private sector employers are now starting to include gender identity and expression in their non-discrimination policies. However, issues of gender identity and expression still remain uncharted territory in many workplaces. As a result, employers...
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Heather Hettiarachchi Interviewed by The Province about Bullying and Harassment

Heather Hettiarachchi Interviewed by The Province about Bullying and Harassment.

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The Disengaged Employee

According to the 2014 Global Workforce Study conducted by Towers Watson, which covers responses from over 32,000 employees across a range of industries in 26 markets around the world, only four in 10 employees are highly engaged and 24% (almost...
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Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada

On May 21, 2013, the Federal Court of Canada dismissed a challenge brought by two unions in respect of the hiring of 201 foreign nationals by HD Mining International Ltd., a British Columbia based mining company. The unions argued that HD Mining’s hiring of the...
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Collective Bargaining Rights – DOXA documentary Film Festival

I was a panelist at this year’s DOXA Documentary Film Festival and spoke at the screening of “We Are Wisconsin“, on May 8th. My co-panelist was Holly Page, BCGEU. “We are Wisconsin” is a documentary about massive public protests against...
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Working Notice

In Canada, in the absence of just cause, an employer must give an employee notice or payment in lieu of notice if the employer wishes to terminate the employment relationship. When an employer gives an employee notice of its intention to terminate the employment...
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Effective Performance Reviews

Many organizations conduct performance reviews. Typically, the reviews are completed by an employee’s immediate supervisor with little or no input from the employee. The employee is then provided with formal “feedback”, normally once every year, at a...
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The Insecure Manager – Part 2

Earlier this month, I wrote about the characteristics of an insecure manager. Unfortunately, many employees are faced with an insecure manager at some point in their work life and it is difficult to know what to do. In this post, I provide tips on what you can do to...
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Common law severance

In Terminating Employees, I discussed the severance obligations imposed on an employer by the BC Employment Standards Act, when an employer is terminating an employee. In this post, I will provide an overview of an employer’s common law obligations when it seeks...
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The Insecure Manager

It seems that some people are born to manage – they do everything right. They are secure, confident men and women, who know how to get the best out of people. As a result, employees who report to these managers perform well and the teams that they manage,...
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Terminating Employees

The BC Employment Standards Act (the “Act“), requires employers to give employees compensation for length of service when they are being terminated. Employers can also discharge this liability by giving employees written notice or a combination of pay and...
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BC Teacher Discipline

The Teacher Regulation Branch, which came into being in 2011, regulates educators and has the authority to conduct reviews of teachers and suspend or cancel teaching certificates, if necessary.  This was previously handled by the BC College of Teachers, which ceased...
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BC Teachers reach tentative deal with government

The BC Teachers’ Federation reached a tentative deal with the BC Public School Employers’ Association late last night.  It is expected that the teachers will vote on the tentative deal on Thursday or Friday of this week.  If the deal is accepted, it will...
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Temporary Layoffs 101

The Employment Standards Act of BC allows employers to temporarily layoff employees only if the layoff: is expressly provided for in the employee’s contract of employment; is implied by well-known industry-wide practice (e.g. logging, where work cannot be...
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Contractual severance and duty to mitigate

Employment contracts often contain termination clauses which stipulate the amount of notice or payment in lieu of notice that an employer will give to an employee in the event he/she is terminated without cause (the “Notice Clause“). In Bowes v. Goss Power...
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Work Addicts

Researchers in Norway have developed a new tool, the Bergen Work Addiction Scale, that can determine whether you are simply a hard worker or someone who is addicted to work. The Bergen scale contains the following statements and if you answer “often” or...
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BCTF heading back to court over class size

The BC Teachers’ Federation is going back to the BC Supreme Court to ask the court to restore provisions that would give the teachers the right to bargain class size, class composition and student-teacher ratios. This follows the enactment by the liberal...
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Arbitrator imposes Air Canada’s final offer collective agreement on IAMAW

On Sunday, Arbitrator Picher imposed a collective agreement between Air Canada and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (“IAMAW”) based on Air Canada’s final offer to the IAMAW. This brings to an end, 14 months of...
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Terminating employees for execessive absenteeism

A question that often comes up is whether an employer can terminate an employee who is absent from the workplace where the absence is  innocent, yet excessive. In Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 1252 and Vitalite Health Network, a New Brunswick labour...
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Domestic Violence and the workplace

WorkSafeBC has developed a new tool kit to help employers minimize the risk of domestic violence spilling into the workplace

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Welcome to Heather Hettiarachchi’s human resources blog.  I am a labour & employment lawyer, with extensive human resources and labour relations expertise. I am the owner of INTEGRITAS WORKPLACE LAW and former Chair of the Labour & Employment Practice...
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Employment Law Services

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Integritas Workplace Law Corporation is a virtual law office focused on providing practical, timely, and innovative advice for building and maintaining successful workplaces. Our services include:

Phone: +1 604-816-8577