Supreme Court

Labour and Employment Law

Labour law

Trade unions

Proper way to sue union was to obtain representation order

Plaintiff employee PL brought action for wrongful dismissal against defendant union, and later against directors of union as individual defendants. Union pleaded that as trade union, it could not be named as party without representation order, pursuant to s. 3(2) of Rights of Labour Act. After expiry of limitation period, employee moved successfully to amend statement of claim, adding individual directors as representatives of union. Majority of Court of Appeal dismissed union and directors’ appeal. Majority held that, while proper way to sue union was to obtain representation order, this statement of claim could not be considered nullity because union did not treat it as such, and there was question of how Act should be interpreted in context of contemporary labour relations regime. Majority agreed with motion judge that union was sum of its members and that members would have known that employee intended to name legal entity that they comprised as members. Majority agreed with motion judge that request for representation order could be characterized as request to correct name of party incorrectly named. Majority held that union and directors participated in action for over two years and would suffer no prejudice as result of representation order. Union and directors appealed. Appeal dismissed. Appeal was dismissed substantially for reasons in three paragraphs in decision of majority of Court of Appeal. 

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 773 v. Lawrence (2018), 2018 CarswellOnt 4370, 2018 CarswellOnt 4371, 2018 SCC 11, 2018 CSC 11, Wagner C.J.C., Abella J., Moldaver J., Karakatsanis J., Gascon J., Côté J., Brown J., Rowe J., and Martin J. (S.C.C.); affirmed (2017), 2017 CarswellOnt 5650, 2017 ONCA 321, Robert J. Sharpe J.A., P. Lauwers J.A., and C.W. Hourigan J.A. (Ont. C.A.).

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