September 13, 2021

Labour relations professionals may be unfamiliar with torts — legal wrongs separate and apart from breaches of contract that lead to liability. However, with the recent recognition by Canadian courts of new privacy-related and other torts that affect the workplace, it is incumbent upon unions and employers to learn about the role of these new torts in protecting against workplace misconduct. In this webinar, experienced counsel will review recent developments in tort law that are relevant to the labour and employment contexts. Their discussion will bear upon the following questions:

  • What are the elements of the torts most commonly alleged by workplace parties (e.g. negligence, defamation, intentional infliction of mental suffering)? Have there been any new developments in the law around these torts?
  • What are the elements of the new privacy-related and other torts developed in Canada recently (e.g. intrusion upon seclusion, Internet harassment, placing a person in a false light, public disclosure of embarrassing private facts)? Are these torts likely to gain traction?
  • What torts arise most often in the employment context? What rights are they intended to protect? Does the answer differ between the unionized and non-unionized contexts?
  • What role do torts play in employment-related litigation? How does that role differ depending on whether the workplace is unionized or non-unionized?
  • What authority do arbitrators have to deal with torts? From a policy standpoint, what are the pros and cons of arbitrators having jurisdiction over any tort claim with a nexus to the workplace?
  • Are arbitrators willing to award monetary damages for breaches of privacy and other rights that torts are intended to protect? If so, in what circumstances and in what monetary range? How do the damages awarded by arbitrators compare to those awarded by the courts?
  • In unionized workplaces, is it generally more fruitful to claim damages for breach of a collective agreement provision than for a tort? What about in the non-unionized context?
  • In what circumstances are employers liable for a tort committed by an employee in the course of employment?
  • What are the strategic considerations for a union whose member wants it to advance a defamation claim against an employer? Conversely, what are the strategic considerations for employers or individuals in management making a defamation claim against an employee or former employee?