Ted's Blog


Federal Court summarizes Canada Labour Code dismissal provisions.

In Atomic Energy of Canada Limited v. Wilson, the Federal Court of Canada gave the following succinct summary of the regime set out in the Canada Labour Code for dealing with employment dismissals.

“[34] Therefore, as I see it, the CLC sets out the following regime for dismissals.

[35] An employer can dismiss an employee without cause so long as it gives notice or severance pay (ss 230, 235). If an employee believes that the terms of his or her dismissal were unjust, he or she can complain (s 240). The only exceptions to the general right to make a complaint are where the dismissal resulted from a lay-off for lack of work or a discontinuance of the employee’s position, or the employee has some other statutory remedy (s 242(3.1)).

[36] In addition, an employee can complain if he or she believes that the reason given by the employer for the dismissal was unjustified or if the dismissal is otherwise unjust (eg, based on discrimination or reprisal) (s 240(1)). If the adjudicator appointed to entertain the complaint concludes on any basis that the dismissal was unjust, he or she has broad remedial powers to compensate the employee, reinstate the employee, or grant any other suitable remedy (s 242(4)).

[37] The fact that an employer has paid an employee severance pay does not preclude an adjudicator from granting further relief where the adjudicator concludes that the dismissal was unjust. Similarly, there is no basis for concluding that the CLC only permits dismissals for cause. That conclusion would fail to take account of the clear remedies provided in ss 230 and 235 (ie, notice and severance) for persons dismissed without cause.

[38] My construction of the CLC is supported by the following arbitral decisions: Halkovich v Fairford First Nation, [1998] CLAD No 486, at paras 99-110; D McCool Transport Ltd v Bosma, [1998] CLAD No 315, at para 15; and Chalifoux v Driftpile First Nation-Driftpile River Band No 450, [2000] CLAD No 368, at paras 12-13, upheld on other grounds in Chalifoux v Driftpile First Nation, 2001, FCT 785, and Chalifoux v Driftpile First Nation, 2002 FCA 521; and Prosper v PPADC Management Co, [2010] CLAD No 430, at para 16.”