Supreme Court


Wrongful dismissal
Labour Code provisions offered statutory alternative to common law of dismissal

Employee was dismissed without cause after four-and-one-half years’ employment, and given six months’ pay. Employee brought successful unjust dismissal complaint under s. 240 of Canada Labour Code. Adjudicator found that, as matter of statutory interpretation, Code only permitted dismissals for just cause. Employer brought successful application for judicial review. Employee’s appeal to Federal Court of Appeal was dismissed. Employee appealed. Appeal allowed. Standard of review was reasonableness, and issue was whether adjudicator’s interpretation of ss. 240 to 246 of Code was reasonable. Purpose of statutory scheme was to ensure that non-unionized federal employees would be entitled to protection from being dismissed without cause under Part III of Code. Provisions offered statutory alternative to common law of dismissals, and to align protection from unjust dismissal for non-unionized federal employees with those available to unionized employees. If employer could dismiss without cause under Code by providing severance pay, no role would exist for plurality of remedies available to adjudicator.

Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (July 14, 2016, S.C.C., McLachlin C.J.C., Abella J., Cromwell J., Moldaver J., Karakatsanis J., Wagner J., Gascon J., Côté J., and Brown J., 36354) Decision at 249 A.C.W.S. (3d) 347 was reversed. 267 A.C.W.S. (3d) 349.

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