Decision Transforms Employment Law in Canada Concerning Non-Unionized Employees
TORONTO, Feb. 26, 2015 /CNW/ - In a momentous decision that overturns almost 40 years of case law, Canada's Federal Court of Appeal has ruled that federally-regulated employers have the right to dismiss non-unionized employees without cause. The Court of Appeal's very recent ruling in Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited affirms the lower Federal Court's decision and is seen as a triumph for federally-regulated employers. "This ruling is a victory for all corporate decision-makers who run federally-regulated businesses" said Ronald Snyder, a Partner at Fogler, Rubinoff LLP, and the lawyer who successfully represented Atomic Energy of Canada Limited in the appeal.
"There is no issue more fundamental or more significant that goes to the core of the employer-employee relationship than the right to hire and fire. This decision is transformational in that employers will now have the necessary flexibility required to effectively and efficiently manage their human resources," said Snyder, a certified specialist in labour law whose practice focuses almost exclusively on federal issues.
"Since the introduction of the unjust dismissal legislation in the Canada Labour Code in 1978, federally-regulated employers have been restricted in their ability to manage their human resources in a manner they view appropriate," said Snyder. "Employers who had a legitimate business case for terminating an employee were often unable or reluctant to dismiss employees unless they built a solid case demonstrating just cause, something that requires significant time, expense and resources." While provincially-regulated employers have long been able to terminate employees without cause, their federal counterparts, whose employees are subject to Part III of the Canada Labour Code, have been constricted by the generally held consensus that they could only terminate employees for just cause such as performing their job to an unsatisfactory standard or for reasons of misconduct such as theft, assaults or harassment of co-workers, or seriously breaching corporate rules. There are approximately 12,000 federally-regulated enterprises in Canada, including banks and financial institutions, airlines and railways, telecom providers, broadcasters, federal Crown corporations and other employers who employ the 820,000 employees or roughly 6% of all Canadian workers.
Despite the significance of this ruling, Snyder cautions Federal companies in their exercise of this more flexible tool to dismiss employees as adjudicators will continue to retain jurisdiction to assess the 'justness' of a termination. In having sustained the lower Federal Court's decision, the Court of Appeal, by implication, agrees there are three types of unjust dismissal complaints that can be asserted by an employee and that can be referred to an adjudicator. The first involves instances where an individual is terminated without cause and is provided severance or notice, in which case the adjudicator, in accordance with common law principles, will determine if the package was just or reasonable. The second is where an employee who is dismissed for just cause disputes the allegation in which case the employer must prove it had just cause, such as for reasons of misconduct, incompetence or incapacity. The third scenario is where an employee is dismissed without cause and provided a severance package but alleges the termination is really a disguised dismissal. That is, the dismissal was effected contrary to legislation such as on a prohibited ground pursuant to the Canadian Human Rights Act. In accordance with the Federal Court of Appeal's judgment, the employer will then be required to demonstrate both the justness of the termination (i.e. that it was not effected contrary to legislation) and the severance package provided.
About Ronald Snyder
Ronald M. Snyder is a Partner at Fogler, Rubinoff LLP. He is certified as a Specialist in Labour Law by the Law Society of Upper Canada and is Nationally recognized as an expert in Federal Labour Law. With a heightened knowledge of the interpretation and application of the Canada Labour Code, Mr. Snyder works with Chief decision-makers at federally-regulated companies to solve their most complex labour and employment issues. Operating out of both of Fogler, Rubinoff LLP's Toronto and Ottawa offices, he represents both public and private sector employers throughout Canada before an array of administrative tribunals and all levels of courts concerning a wide variety of workplace issues. He is also a noted Canadian labour law author whose textbooks and publications are one of the most often referenced authorities in awards rendered by arbitrators and the courts. His treatise, Collective Agreement Arbitration in Canada is widely regarded as a "leading text" on the law relating to workplace issues in the unionized context and his Annotated Canada Labour Code treatise, annually published since 1992, has made him a household name among those who practice federal labour and employment law.
About Fogler, Rubinoff LLP
Fogler, Rubinoff LLP is a full-service law firm with offices located in Toronto and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Established in 1982, they provide high-quality legal services and advice to both established and emerging businesses as well as individuals. Fogler, Rubinoff LLP, one of the 20 largest law firms in Toronto, is considered to be one of Ontario's top ten regional law firms by Canadian Lawyer Magazine. They are also a member of the International Lawyer's Network. This association, with over 90 law firms located throughout more than 66 countries worldwide, allows them to offer a significant strategic advantage to their clients with a global presence. Fogler, Rubinoff LLP prides themselves on trust, experience, sound judgement and results.
SOURCE Fogler, Rubinoff LLP
For further information: For Media Inquiries: Ronald M. Snyder, Partner, Fogler, Rubinoff LLP, [email protected]; tel: 613-842-7440, toll free: 1-866-304-7939