January 25, 2018

In this session, leading labour lawyers will explain how the most important workplace human rights and labour decisions from 2017 will affect you in the coming year and flag significant litigation on the horizon. Final selection of topics will take place a few weeks before the audio conference, ensuring coverage of late-breaking decisions, but specific cases to be discussed include:

Discrimination “regarding employment”:

  • Schrenk v. British Columbia (Supreme Court of Canada): What constitutes discrimination “regarding employment”? Does human rights legislation impose liability for discrimination or harassment on persons who have no control over the complainant’s employment? Must there be a power imbalance between a complainant and an alleged harasser in order for a complaint of harassment to succeed?

Disability-related misconduct:

  • Stewart v. Elk Valley Coal Corp. (Supreme Court of Canada): Has the majority’s decision elevated the burden of establishing discrimination in cases of misconduct related to a substance use disorder or other disability?

Drug and alcohol testing:

  • Suncor Energy Inc. v. Unifor Local 707A (Alberta Court of Appeal), and Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113 v. Toronto Transit Commission (Ontario Superior Court): Do the Alberta Court of Appeal’s Suncor decision and the Ontario Superior Court’s Toronto Transit Commission decision foreshadow judicial acceptance of random drug and alcohol testing in Canada?

Management rights:

  • Association of Justice Counsel v. Canada (Supreme Court of Canada): Does the majority’s decision settle the question of whether all exercises of management rights are subject to an overriding duty of fairness?

Union participation in the accommodation process:

  • Telus Communications Inc. v. Telecommunications Workers’ Union (B.C. Court of Appeal) and Ontario Public Service Employees Union v. Ontario (Ontario Grievance Settlement Board): What is the current status of the law regarding a union’s right to participate in the accommodation process in the absence of collective agreement language expressly addressing the issue? Do employees or employers have the right to exclude the union from the accommodation process?


  • Saadati v. Moorhead (Supreme Court of Canada), Lau v. Royal Bank of Canada (B.C. Court of Appeal), and Galea v. Wal-Mart Canada Corp. (Ontario Superior Court): How, if at all, will labour arbitration and human rights claims be affected by these decisions, which held that medical evidence of a recognized psychiatric disorder is not required to establish a claim for damages for mental distress?
  • Merlo v. Canada (Federal Court): Does the court’s approval of a $100 million settlement in a class action against the RCMP establish a new model for settling claims of widespread sexual harassment? Is it evidence of a trend towards larger damage awards for sexual harassment claims?

Freedom of association:

  • Association des cadres de la Société des casinos du Québec v. Société des casinos du Québec inc. (Quebec Administrative Labour Tribunal) and Syndicat des travailleuses et travailleurs du CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal v. Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux du Centre-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal (Quebec Administrative Labour Tribunal); Syndicat des employées et employés professionnels-les et de bureau, section locale 574 (SEPB) CTC-FTQ v. Association syndicale des employés(es) de production et de services (ASEPS) (Quebec Court of Appeal), and Syndicat des juristes du secteur municipal (CSQ) v. Alliance des professionnels et professionnelles de la Ville de Québec (Quebec Court of Appeal): What do these recent cases from Quebec mean for managerial exclusions from collective bargaining regimes, employees’ freedom in choosing their own bargaining agents, and restrictions on the right to strike? Are any of these cases likely to make it to the Supreme Court of Canada? If they do, how will recent changes to the Court (i.e. appointment of a new judge and a new chief justice) affect the outcome?