July 9, 2015
The Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) has granted Mr. Joseph Wilson leave to appeal the Federal Court of Appeal’s 2015 decision in Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (“Wilson”).
The Federal Court of Appeal’s decision in Wilson was summarized in our In A Flash dated February 18, 2015. The Federal Court of Appeal concluded that the dismissal of non-union non-managerial employees “without cause” for non-economic reasons was not automatically “unjust” under section 240 of the Canada Labour Code (“Code”). This represented a significant change in the way that section 240 had been interpreted. The SCC will now determine whether that change was correct and binding on Federally regulated employers. Until the SCC has rendered its opinion on the issue, Federally regulated employers subject to the Code will have to be careful and should consider seeking legal advice when they terminate non-union non-managerial employees in circumstances where the employees’ positions are not being eliminated.
In this case the appellant, Mr. Wilson, was dismissed from Atomic Energy “without cause” and offered six months’ severance pay in exchange for a full and final release. Mr. Wilson did not sign the release and alleged that he was “unjustly dismissed” under s. 240 of the Code. This provision grants a Federally regulated non-union employee recourse to an adjudication process if a dismissal is considered “unjust”.
An adjudicator found in Mr. Wilson’s favour, determining that the employer could not lawfully terminate Mr. Wilson “without cause”. The case made its way to the Federal Court of Appeal which ruled in favour of the employer, making clear that “just cause” was not required to terminate an employee under the Code. This ruling was a significant departure from prior decisions. The SCC will now decide whether the Federal Court of Appeal’s interpretation was right and settle this important question for Federally regulated employers.
We will continue to monitor the appeal process and will provide further updates as more information becomes available.
If you have any questions about this topic or any other questions relating to workplace law, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.
For more information on new developments in Workplace Law, please refer to our website at: http://www.mathewsdinsdale.com/news-events/in-a-flash/
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