Pay Equity: Supreme Court of Canada allows PSAC’s Appeal

Our firm recently represented the Public Service Alliance of Canada (“PSAC”) in an appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada regarding the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s 2005 decision to uphold PSAC’s pay equity complaint against Canada Post.

In a rare ruling from the bench, the Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal, reinstating the Tribunal’s decision against Canada Post. The complaint, presented in 1983, resulted in a long-fought legal battle by PSAC, first to have the case referred to Tribunal and then to see the matter through the adjudicative process, which included over 400 hearing days spanning ten years. The award for lost wages and the interest thereon is estimated to be worth approximately $250 million.

The Supreme Court’s decision has significant implications for both the individuals involved and the pay equity jurisprudence under the Canadian Human Rights Act. In endorsing wholesale the dissenting reasons set out by Justice Evans at the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court re-affirmed the validity of the 1986 Equal Wages Guidelines, including the gender predominance thresholds set out therein. The Supreme Court also confirmed the Tribunal’s decision to accept the expert evidence tendered by PSAC, which demonstrated that Canada Post had failed to pay workers in the female-dominated CR Group equal pay for work of equal value performed by the male-dominated PO Group.

Congratulations to PSAC for this hard-fought and important victory!