"As much as employers want to stretch the rules to justify their decisions, the SCC just said no. That's a major victory for non-union workers." — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (20 July 2016) — The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) ruling in Wilson v. AECL will deliver accountability and fairness to roughly 500,000 non-unionized federal employees, said the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). The SCC upheld the interpretation that, under the Canada Labour Code, dismissing an employee without cause is unjust, and therefore not permitted.
Worker fights unjust termination all the way to Supreme Court and wins rights for thousands
“This ruling is a win for all federally-regulated employees, particularly those who do not currently benefit from the protection of a union. Now, about half a million people can rest assured that they can’t be terminated by their employers at will. Employers must have just cause for firing an employee,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.
The plaintiff in the case, Joseph Wilson, was fired from Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) after having reported improper procurement practices within the organization. AECL never specifically denied having terminated Wilson’s employment for whistleblowing. Instead, AECL argued that because they paid him severance in lieu of notice, the dismissal was legal, and that termination without cause did not necessarily mean the termination was unjust.
The CLC and other Canadian unions intervened on behalf of the 500,000 non-union workers employed in banks, telecommunications, transportation companies and some Crown corporations, who will be affected by the ruling.
Workers shouldn't have to fight for their basic employment rights
"The Supreme Court has just confirmed that workers have a right to fair treatment by their employers, under the law," said Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). "As much as employers want to stretch the rules to justify their decisions, the SCC just said no. That's a major victory for non-union workers."
"Workers shouldn't have to fight for their basic employment rights that are already confirmed in law," said Brown. "Employers have a responsibility and an obligation to treat workers fairly."
Labour to continue to push for stronger protection during review of Labour Code
The federal government has already committed to performing a review later this year of Part III of the Canada Labour Code, which covers unjust dismissal protection.
“We will keep pushing to strengthen protections for all workers. The government needs to seize this opportunity to more clearly define ‘unjust dismissal’ and reconfirm the original intent of a law intended to ensure that workers are treated fairly,” said Yussuff.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE