supreme court of canada

In recent years, Canadian courts have increasingly heard large civil claims against Canadian companies for alleged human rights violations in their foreign operations. As we have discussed previously, judges faced with these claims must determine whether the court’s jurisdictional reach extends to the company’s activities in its global supply chain, thus permitting foreign claimants to pursue their action in Canada.
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Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) refused the union’s leave application in Suncor Energy Inc v Unifor Local 707A, 2017 ABCA 313 (Suncor ) thereby leaving the Alberta Court of Appeal’s (ABCA) ruling intact. The ABCA had held that evidence of substance-related safety risks across an employer’s workforce (including both union and non-union workers) may be taken into account when assessing the permissibility of random testing of unionized workers.

Suncor  is a favourable result for employers because it is in step with taking a holistic approach to workplace safety. But it is by no means a green light for drug and alcohol testing in the workplace. With the legalization of recreational use of cannabis fast approaching, we outline the current state of the law and key best practices for workplace impairment testing.
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On August 2, 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada refused the plaintiff’s leave application in Krishnamoorthy v Olympus Canada Inc, 2017 ONCA 873. As such, the Ontario Court of Appeal’s ruling still stands. The ONCA held that a purchaser of assets of a business is free to offer employment on new terms to employees

The Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) recently ruled that a unilateral contract renewal clause was valid, despite its potential to bind one party perpetually: Uniprix inc. v. Gestion Gosselin et Bérubé inc. The clause afforded sole discretion to the respondents to renew or terminate their contract with Uniprix. The wording of the clause, the nature of the contract and the relationship between the parties were determinative in the majority’s ruling, which upheld the decisions of the Court of Appeal and the Superior Court of Quebec. The SCC’s decision and our key takeaways are outlined below.
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On July 14, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that most federally-regulated, non-union employees can only be dismissed for “just cause” after 12 consecutive months of service (Wilson v. Atomic Energy, 2016 SCC 29). As a result of this decision, it is now clear that employees who are regulated under Part III of the Canada Labour Code cannot, following their first year of employment, simply be provided with termination notice or pay in lieu, absent a compelling reason for terminating the employment relationship.
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Loblaws, Joe Fresh, Nevsun Resources, Hudbay Minerals, and Tahoe Resources. What do these Canadian companies have in common? They have been targeted in significant lawsuits in Canadian courts for alleged labour and/or human rights violations in their overseas operations or supply chains.

Canadian multinational corporations must take note that our courts are revealing a new willingness to expand their jurisdictional reach in light of modern commercial realities and perceived corporate impunity (see: Chevron Corp. v. Yaiguage, 2015 SCC 42), and they are keeping an open mind as to whether a duty of care exists between Canadian companies and the foreign workers who produce their products (see: Choc v. Hudbay Minerals Inc., 2013 ONSC 1414). This emerging trend in Canada is taking place against the backdrop of hardening and expanding international business and human rights standards and norms.

A key test case for this shift in Canada is the ongoing class action lawsuit against Loblaws and Joe Fresh (the “Loblaws Defendants“), which was launched by Bangladeshi garment workers in response to the well-known 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which killed 1,130 workers.


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Business is becoming increasingly global as companies establish operations in various countries throughout the world. As profitable as this strategy may be, expansion is not without its difficulties. Where an employer is a subsidiary or branch of a larger foreign corporation, for instance, there may be issues regarding conflicting laws and regulations. For example, where a parent company is expected to abide by one set of laws in the United States, but adherence to those laws may be viewed as discriminatory in Canada, what is the appropriate course of action for a Canadian subsidiary or branch?

On July 23, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) released its decision in Quebec (Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse) v. Bombardier Inc. The case was the SCC’s first opportunity to consider alleged discrimination based on foreign laws.
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The Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC“) has clarified and expanded the scope of “constructive dismissal”. In Potter v. New Brunswick Legal Aid Services Commission, the SCC held that placing an employee on paid administrative (i.e. non-disciplinary) leave can constitute constructive dismissal. The SCC determined that employers are required to act in good faith towards their employees and, unless explicitly authorized by the employment contract, employers cannot place employees on leave, even if paid, without providing legitimate business justification. Where an employer fails to do so, the suspension will be viewed as an unauthorized breach of the employment contract, amounting to “constructive dismissal” of the employee, who can then sue the former employer for compensation.
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