January 22, 2019

Leading labour lawyers will review the most important recent decisions from courts, arbitrators, and tribunals, and explain how they will affect you in the coming year. The panel will also flag significant ongoing litigation. Specific cases to be discussed include:

Discrimination in benefit and insurance plans

  • Talos v. Grand Erie District School Board (Ontario Human Rights Tribunal); Okanagan College Faculty Association v. Okanagan College (British Columbia Labour Arbitration): What are the implications of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal’s ruling in Talos that legislative provisions permitting reductions in benefit and insurance plans for employees aged 65 and older violate the prohibition against age-based discrimination in the Charter of Rights? Does the decision provide support for similar challenges in other jurisdictions?
  • Canadian Elevator Industry Welfare Trust Fund v. Skinner (Nova Scotia Court of Appeal); Rivard v. Essex (County) (Ontario Human Rights Tribunal): Is it now settled law that it is not discriminatory for a benefit plan to exclude medical cannabis from coverage?

Sexual harassment

  • Jane Doe v. Canada (Federal Court of Appeal); CB, HK, & RD v. Canadian Union of Public Employees (Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board); Amalgamated Transit Union v. Toronto Transit Commission (Ontario Labour Arbitration); Metro Rideau Store v. Unifor (Ontario Labour Arbitration): What lessons can be learned from recent cases regarding an employer’s duty to investigate allegations of sexual harassment? What about a union’s duty of fair representation where the matter involves member-to-member harassment? In the #MeToo era, which incidents of sexual harassment are just cause for dismissal and which warrant lesser discipline?

Drug and alcohol policies

  • Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada v. Terra Nova Employers’ Organization (Newfoundland Court of Appeal); JA v. L&L Painting and Decorating Ltd. (Ontario Human Rights Tribunal); International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers v. Lower Churchill Transmission Construction Employers’ Association Inc. (Newfoundland Labour Arbitration); Unifor v. Airport Terminal Services Canadian Company (Federal Labour Arbitration): Do the latest cases provide guidance on drafting workplace policies dealing with cannabis use? In what circumstances, if any, can an employer adopt a zero-tolerance policy for use or possession?
  • Interior Health Authority v. Hospital Employees’ Union (British Columbia Labour Arbitration): What aspects of the employer’s substance use disorder policy were struck down as impermissible?


  • A.B. v. Joe Singer Shoes Limited (Ontario Human Rights Tribunal): Does this decision, awarding a record-setting $200,000 in damages for injury to dignity, feelings, and self-respect, indicate that human rights tribunals are willing to order damages for sexual assault in line with those granted by courts in civil claims? Or is the award low, considering the complainant had been repeatedly sexually assaulted by her boss over a 20-year period?
  • Passmore v. Illumiti Inc. (Ontario Human Rights Tribunal): Does this award of $40,000 in damages for injury to dignity signal an increasing willingness to order substantial damages for injury to dignity in cases of disability-based discrimination?

Pay equity

  • Centrale des syndicats du Québec v. Québec and Quebec v. Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux (Supreme Court of Canada); Association of Ontario Midwives v. Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care (Ontario Human Rights Tribunal); Canadian Union of Postal Workers v. Canada Post Corporation (Federal Labour Arbitration): What are the implications of recent pay equity decisions for other provinces/sectors?

Freedom of Association

  • Postal Services Resumption and Continuation Act, Bill C-89 (Federal); Public Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Labour Dispute Resolution Act, Bill 178 (Ontario); Public Services Sustainability Act, Bill 28 (Manitoba); Public Service Sustainability Act, Bill 148 and Teachers’ Professional Agreement and 4 Classroom Improvements Act, Bill 75 (Nova Scotia): What is the status of current Charter challenges to wage restraint and back-to-work legislation?