Failing to give employee proper equipment

Liability for failing to provide necessary tools for employee's job duties
By Brian Kenny
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 07/27/2011

Question: If an employee needs a certain piece of equipment but the employer is slow to provide it, is there a potential for constructive dismissal or any other liability if the job is more difficult or more stressful because of the equipment’s absence?

Answer: A constructive dismissal will only be found to exist where the employer unilaterally imposes a fundamental change to the employment relationship. In order to determine whether a particular situation meets this test for constructive dismissal, one needs to ask whether a reasonable person in the same position would have considered the essential terms of the employment contract to have been substantially changed. The term or terms must have been significantly altered before the change will be considered fundamental. It is the degree of change which is important. With the respect to the unilateral imposition of the change, it is important to note that the terms will not be considered unilaterally imposed if the change is expressly accepted by the employee or where the change is condoned. If the employee does not convey her opposition to the change within a reasonable time frame, then they will be viewed as having condoned it.

Constructive dismissal can also be found to exist in cases where employer conduct renders continued employment intolerable to the employee. Courts will consider, in these cases, that there has been a breach of the fundamental implied term of any employment contract to treat employees with decency, civility and respect.