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The Canada Labour Code Uncovered

You’re fired!  The two most dreaded words you never hope to hear.  Losing your job is difficult: a job gives us meaning, its part of our lives, our psyche, it shapes our identity. 

Despite the prevailing sense of doom associated with losing your livelihood, there is some good news for the federally regulated worker.  Organizations that are regulated by the Canada Labour Code (this includes extra-provincial transportation and courier services along with telecommunications) cannot terminate without cause. 

Section 240 of the Canada Labour Code immunizes non-unionized, non-management, federal workers against unjust termination of employment. “Unjust Termination” is broadly defined under the legislation to include every type of termination with the exception of dismissal for cause, termination where there is a lack of work, or redundancy associated with a discontinuance of a function.  In practical terms, federally regulated organizations are prevented from dismissing workers because of “fit”.

Similar to unionized workers, a federally regulated employee has job protection. 

If an employee believes the terms of their dismissal are unjust they have a right to the reasons for termination and also to file a complaint alleging unjust dismissal.

The protection from termination was reviewed in Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd v. Wilson where the Federal Court concluded that an employee in receipt of a package on termination is still entitled to redress under the Canada Labour Code if they establish they were unjustly dismissed. 

This is very important, as Adjudicators of the Canada Labour Code have broad remedial power to compensate the employee, reinstate the employee, or do any other like thing to remedy the consequence of the dismissal. 

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. clearly establishes offering a financial package to assist the employee while they are looking to secure other work does not obviate an Adjudicator’s authority to reinstate with back wages.

The question will be, does the employee really want to return to work or will the parties be able to reach a resolution recognizing the workers’ agreement to forego reinstatement.