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Archive For Entries On Labour and Employment

Appeal Watch: Bhasin v Hrynew Submissions Before the SCC

On February 12, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada heard an appeal from the Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision in Bhasin v Hrynew, 2013 ABCA 98. My previous analysis of the ruling can be found here on The Court. Lawyers for the plaintiff and the defendants made their oral submissions before Chief Justice McLachlin, along […]

Is the Right to Strike Protected by the Charter? A Review of R v Saskatchewan Federation of Labour

Since 2001 there has been considerable turmoil at the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) surrounding collective bargaining rights under the Charter. During this period, two significant decisions have appeared to shift the Court towards recognizing a constitutional right to collective bargaining. As a result, a trial judge in Saskatchewan took the audacious step of assuming […]

The Search for Goldilocks in the Wilderness of Punitive Damages: Pate Estate v Galway-Cavendish and Harvey (Townships)

In March 1999, Mr. John Gordon Pate was wrongfully dismissed by the Township of Galway-Cavendish and Harvey, after having worked for the Township as a building inspector for nearly a decade. After a subsequent police investigation, a four-day criminal trial, a civil action by Mr. Pate, a successful appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal, […]

A Damage Award to Discourage Age Discrimination in IBM Canada Limited v Waterman

There is a somewhat peculiar fact pattern in the case of IBM Canada Limited v Waterman, 2013 SCC 70.   It led to an unusual outcome, to the benefit of the respondent-plaintiff, in which the Court expanded the boundaries of flexible damage awards.  The decision also enunciates important principles regarding pension entitlements and age discrimination.  The […]

BULLETIN: SCC Declares Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act Unconstitutional, Affirms Freedom of Expression in Labour Context

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Canada in Alberta v United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401 2013 SCC 62 declares Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) to be unconstitutional, as it breaches a union’s freedom of expression, protected under s. 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedom, and cannot be justified under s. 1. Despite […]

The Criminal Code and Industrial Accidents: R v Metron Construction and the Ghosts of Westray

Deaths due to occupational causes outnumber homicides in Canada by about two to one. Many of these deaths stem from negligence, and critics charge that enforcement measures are lax. In a major departure, a record fine for corporate criminal negligence was imposed in R v Metron Construction Corporation, 2013 ONCA 541, after four Toronto construction workers fell to […]

The Supreme Court Gives Leave to Appeal against Mandatory Retirement for Law Firm Partners

Last year, TheCourt reported on a British Columbia Court of Appeal (BCCA) ruling, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP v. British Columbia (Human Rights Tribunal), (2012 BCCA 313). John McCormick, a partner of the firm in Vancouver, had gone to the Human Rights Tribunal to complain about mandatory retirement at age 65.   He won there, and in […]

The SCC’s decision Payette v. Guay and the Potential Implications for Bhasin v. Hrynew

In my previous post here on The Court, I discussed the upcoming appeal of Bhasin v. Hrynew, 2013 ABCA 98, and how the Supreme Court of Canada has an opportunity to clarify whether contractual interpretation should be guided primarily by the intention of the contracting parties at the time the agreement was made (the intentionalist […]

Appeal Watch: SCC likely to clarify contractual interpretation and good faith in Bhasin v. Hrynew

On August 22, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed to hear an appeal from the Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision in Bhasin v. Hrynew, 2013 ABCA 98. The SCC’s granting of leave in Bhasin signals the Court’s eagerness to determine a longstanding legal debate about the judicial interpretation of contracts and the duty to […]

Non-union retirees win class action lawsuit over reduced benefits in O’Neill v. General Motors of Canada

  Contracts is an ancient, well-trodden area of the law, and contract cases rarely get to the Supreme Court.    A recent case that might make it there concerns a move by General Motors (in dire financial straits at the time) to reduce the health and life insurance benefits of its non-union retirees.  The case is […]