Federal Court Confirms Procedural Fairness “Right to be Heard”

On November 26, 2014, the Federal Court rendered its judgment overturning a decision of a grievance adjudicator under the Public Service Labour Relations Act. The Applicants were a group of employees who alleged they had been denied overtime opportunities contrary to their Collective Agreement. The adjudicator of their grievances rejected the arguments presented by the employer, but nonetheless dismissed the grievances on grounds that had never been argued or discussed during the hearing.

In its judgment (2014 FC 1136), the Federal Court held that the adjudicator had violated the Applicants’ rights to procedural fairness by denying them an opportunity to present evidence and arguments on the issue that formed the ultimate basis for the adjudicator’s decision. This decision confirms that, where an administrative decision-maker wishes to depart from the case as argued by the parties and render a decision on the basis of a new issue or argument, the decision-maker is obligated to give the parties an opportunity to make submissions on that new issue.

The Applicants were represented on the judicial review by Amanda Montague-Reinholdt of our firm.