Supreme Court of Canada reshapes labor law (again)

March 08, 2015 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

by John D.R. Craig, Christopher D. Pigott, and Brandon Wiebe

In the January 2015 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL), the Court found, for the first time, that Canadian workers have a constitutional “right to strike.”

In reaching this conclusion, the Supreme Court overturned almost 30 years of case law that had expressly established that the guarantee of freedom of association in section 2(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not protect strike activity. read more…

Quebec employers can’t waive notice period provided by resigning employee without providing notice

October 19, 2014 - by: Mohamed Badreddine 0 COMMENTS

by Mohamed Badreddine

Most employers in Quebec know that under Quebec’s Act Respecting Labour Standards (ALS) and the Civil Code of Québec (CCQ), an employer who wishes to terminate an indefinite contract of employment without serious reason must provide notice or pay in lieu of notice. Employees who wish to resign must also give their employer notice of resignation.

In Commission des normes du travail v. Asphalte Desjardins inc., the Supreme Court of Canada held that when an employee gives notice of resignation, the employer cannot waive the notice period and terminate the contract of employment without providing notice or pay in lieu of notice. read more…

High court rules on noncompete, nonsolicitation clauses in business sale

November 03, 2013 - by: Isabelle East-Richard 0 COMMENTS

By Isabelle East-Richard

A recent Supreme Court of Canada decision arising out of Québec will have broad ramifications across Canada.

In Payette v. Guay Inc. (2013 SCC 45 (September 12, 2013)), the Supreme Court of Canada settled the debate over whether the employment contract provisions of the Civil Code of Québec also apply to noncompete and nonsolicitation clauses set forth in business sale agreements. In so doing, it addressed the distinction between the rules that apply to restrictive covenants found in an employment contract and those found in a contract for the sale of a business. read more…

Supreme Court rejects random alcohol testing policy in dangerous workplace

June 30, 2013 - by: Northern Exposure 1 COMMENTS

By Kyla Stott-Jess, Katie Clayton, and Hannah Roskey

Canada’s highest court has ruled that random drug and alcohol testing in the workplace violates privacy rights. In Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 30 v. Irving Pulp & Paper Ltd., the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) considered the validity of a random alcohol testing policy in a unionized workplace. In a 6-3 decision, the SCC agreed with the original arbitration board decision to strike down the employer’s mandatory drug and alcohol testing policy. read more…

Did he quit, or was he fired?

September 09, 2012 - by: Emilie Paquin-Holmested 0 COMMENTS

by Emilie Paquin-Holmested

Generally when employees decide to leave their jobs, they are considered to have quit. But in Canada, if they leave their jobs because the employer substantially changed essential terms of their employment, they are considered to have been constructively dismissed.

The line separating these two notions is often unclear. It’s especially so when terms of employment are changed after a corporate merger or integration. In a recent decision (St-Hilaire c. Nexxlink inc.), the Court of Appeal of Quebec reviewed the principles of constructive dismissal in this very context. read more…

Labor Arbitrators Have More Scope than Courts, Supreme Court Says

December 25, 2011 - by: Brian Smeenk 0 COMMENTS

By Brian P. Smeenk

Canadian labor arbitrators are not legally bound to court-made legal rules. Rules of evidence, for example, are more relaxed. Rules of contract interpretation may also vary. But just how far arbitrators can deviate from general rules of law has been an open question.

A recent decision by the Supreme Court of Canada took a fresh look at this issue. It confirmed that labor arbitrators will be given lots of leeway by the courts.

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Canada’s Top Court to Decide If Human Rights Tribunal Can Award Legal Costs

October 11, 2010 - by: Ida Martin 0 COMMENTS

By Ida Martin

This December, the Supreme Court of Canada is set to hear a case involving the issue of whether the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has the authority to grant legal costs to a successful complainant. In an area of law where legal costs often dwarf the actual amount of any award, the Supreme Court of Canada decision could have major ramifications for human rights litigation across Canada.

Audio Conference: Operating in Canada: New Dos and Don’ts for Employers

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Blowing Holes in Collective Agreements

October 04, 2010 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

by Emilie Paquin-Holmested and Dominique Monet

The Supreme Court of Canada, in Québec (Procureur général) c. Syndicat de la fonction publique, recently struck down a clause in a collective agreement. The clause in question prevented certain employees from challenging discipline through grievance arbitration. The Court declared the clause void because it contravened a statutory minimum standard.

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Wal-Mart Allowed to Close Unionized Store: Supreme Court of Canada

December 14, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Marc Ouellet and Louise Béchamp

On November 27, 2009, in two cases involving Wal-Mart (Plourde v. Wal-Mart Canada Corp. and Desbiens v. Wal-Mart Canada Corp.), the Supreme Court of Canada rendered its much-awaited decision on an employer’s right to close operations for alleged antiunion reasons.

The Supreme Court decisions rule that Wal-Mart could close one of its stores following the unionization of its employees. Essentially, the court confirmed the principle by which an employer can overturn the presumption against it, established by section 17 of the Quebec Labour Code, by simply showing that the decision to close is “real and definitive.” This is possible even though the reasons behind the closing could be viewed as “socially reprehensible.”

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Canadian Supreme Court’s Principles Lead to Large Damage Award Against Employer

November 23, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Katie Clayton and Farrah Sunderani

In our October 12, 2009, entry we looked at the extent to which Canadian courts are following the principles established by the Supreme Court of Canada in Honda v. Keays to awarding bad faith and punitive damages. Last month, an Alberta court was once again put to the test.

On October 13, 2009, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench released its reasons in Soost v. Merrill Lynch Canada Inc. where it followed the Supreme Court’s principles, although this time against the employer.

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