Federal Court of Appeal Upholds Employee Grievance Rights

In a recent decision, the Federal Court of Appeal conclusively determined that federal public service adjudicators may hear and decide on cases where the Federal Government revokes an employee’s reliability status and then terminates her for the loss of that status.

The adjudicator in the case at hand had found that the employer did not have a legitimate concern that the Grievor posed a security risk when it decided to revoke her reliability status and then terminate her. He therefore found that the Grievor’s termination had been without cause and ordered her reinstatement.

Before the Federal Court of Appeal, the Government argued that this decision should be overturned. The Government took the position that federal public service adjudicators could only consider whether an employee was terminated for cause and did not have the power to consider whether the Government’s decision to revoke an employee’s reliability status was justified.

The Federal Court of Appeal squarely rejected this claim, finding that the adjudicator’s approach was “the only reasonable approach to be taken.” In doing so, the Court overturned a number of cases which had limited employees’ right to grieve where they were terminated due to the loss of reliability status. The Court concluded that these cases were “no longer valid,” cementing the right of employees to bring forward grievances in these circumstances and for public service adjudicators to determine whether a revocation leading to termination is, in fact, justified.

The employee was represented by Andrew Raven of RavenLaw.