1994 Legislative Session: 3rd Session, 35th Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, enacts as follows:
1 "board" means the Workers Compensation Board.
"Ministry" means the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks.
2 The purpose of this act is to protect workers who report pollution violations by their employer and who refuse work involving pollution violations.
3 No employer shall
(a) dismiss a worker,
(b) discipline a worker,
(c) penalize a worker, or
(d) coerce, intimidate or harass or attempt to coerce, intimidate or harass a worker because the worker has complied or may comply with any law, including but limited to the following:
(i) the Waste Management Act;
(ii) the Environmental Management Act;
(iii) the Forest Act;
(iv) the Health Act;
(v) the Land Act;
(vi) the Mines Act;
(vii) the Pesticide Control Act;
(viii) the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act;
(ix) the Transport of Dangerous Goods Act;
(x) the Utilities Commission Act;
(xi) the Wildlife Act;
or a regulation under one of those Acts or an order, term or condition, certificate of approval, license, permit, guideline or direction under one of those Acts or because the employee has sought or may seek the enforcement thereof or has given or may give information to the Ministry or the appropriate ministry or a Provincial officer or because the worker has been or may be called upon to testify in a proceeding related thereto.
4 A worker may refuse to do work or operate or cause to be operated any tool, appliance, equipment, machinery or process, when that person has reasonable cause to believe that in doing so the worker would be participating in a violation of the Acts, regulations and other items set forth in section 3 (d), as follows:
(a) a worker who refuses to carry out work shall forthwith report the circumstances of the pollution violation or potential pollution violation to his or her supervisor or employer;
(b) the supervisor or employer shall forthwith investigate the matter and ensure that any pollution violation is remedied and any potential violation avoided without delay or, alternatively, if in the opinion of the supervisor or employer the report is not valid, he or she shall so inform the person who made the report;
(c) when the procedure under paragraph (b) does not resolve the matter, the supervisor or employer shall investigate the matter in the presence of the worker who made the report and in the presence of
(i) a worker representative of the Environmental and Safety Committee,
(ii) a worker who is selected by a trade union representing the worker, or
(iii) when there is no Health and Safety Committee or the worker is not represented by a trade union, any other reasonably available worker selected by the worker,
(d) when the investigation under paragraph (c) does not resolve the matter, the worker may notify the Ministry and/or an officer or employee of the board who shall investigate the matter without undue delay and issue whatever orders are deemed necessary;
(e) loss of pay shall be considered disciplinary action under this Act and no worker shall lose pay for acting in compliance with this Act or a regulation or an order made by an officer of the board of the Ministry, however, temporary assignment to alternative work is not deemed to constitute disciplinary action.
5 A worker complaining of a contravention of section 3 or whose complaint has not been satisfactorily resolved pursuant to section 4 may forthwith notify an officer of the board who shall investigate the matter without undue delay and issue whatever orders the officer deems necessary.
6 A labour relations officer who is authorized to inquire into the complaint shall make this inquiry forthwith and shall endeavor to effect a settlement of the matter complained of and shall report the results of his or her inquiry and endeavors to the board.
7 A labour relations officer who investigates a complaint may request that an employee of the Ministry participate in the investigation.
8 Where the labour relations officer is unable to effect a settlement of the matter complained of, or if the board in its discretion dispenses with an inquiry by a labour relations officer, the board may inquiry into the complaint.
9 Where the board inquires into the complaint, and is satisfied that an employer has contravened section 3 or 4, the board shall determine what, if anything, the employer shall do or refrain from doing with respect thereto.
10 A determination under section 7 may include, but is not limited to, one or more of
(a) an order directing the employer to cease doing the act or acts complained of,
(b) an order directing the employer to rectify the act or acts complained of,
(c) an order directing the employer to reinstate in employment the worker with compensation, or to compensate in lieu of hiring or reinstatement for loss of earnings or other employment benefits an amount that may be assessed by the board against the employer, or
(d) an order directing the employer to pay general damages, special damages and/or pecuniary damages to the employee.
11 A determination by the board under section 10 applies notwithstanding a provision of an agreement.
12 On an inquiry under section 9, the burden of proof that an employer did not contravene section 3 or 4 lies upon the employer.
13 Where there is a failure to comply with a term of the determination made under section 10, the worker, after the expiration of 14 days from the date of the release of the determination by the board or from the date provided in the determination for compliance, whichever is later, may notify the board in writing of the failure.
14 Where the board receives notice in accordance with section 14, the board shall file in the office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court a copy of the determi nation, exclusive of the reasons therefore, if any, and the determination shall be entered in the same way as a judgment or order of the court and is enforceable as such.
15 Where the matter complained of has been settled, whether through the endeavors of the labour relations officer or otherwise, and the terms of the settlement have been put in writing and signed, the settlement is binding and shall be complied with according to its terms, and a complaint that a settlement has not been complied with shall be deemed to be a complaint under section 3.
16 For the purposes of sections 2 to 14, an act mentioned in section 3 that is performed on behalf of an employer shall be deemed to be an act of the employer.
This Bill provides protection for workers who report pollution violations by their employers and also gives workers the right to refuse to work in situations involving pollution violations.
A worker is protected from being dismissed, disciplined, penalized, coerced, intimidated or harassed for complying with or seeking enforcement of environmental legislation or giving information to the Ministry, Lands and Parks, or the appropriate ministry.
Where a worker refuses to carry out work due to pollution violations, a complaint and investigation procedure is set out.
The burden of proof that an employer did not dismiss, discipline penalize, coerce, intimidate or harass an employee who reports a pollution violation or refuses to work is on the employer.
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