Another year is drawing to a close, providing an opportunity to look back and consider the year’s victories and challenges in the labour and employment law context. 2015 was a momentous year for workers’ rights: there were several significant court judgments, as well as important legislative and political changes. Here is RavenLaw’s Year in Review, listing of the top five developments of the year:

  1. Right to strike: the Supreme Court issued its new “Labour Trilogy” this year, with three judgments that elaborated upon freedom of association under the Charter in the labour context. The most significant of these cases was Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v. Saskatchewan, 2015 SCC 4, which recognized a Constitutional right to strike. Read more about this huge gain for workers’ rights here.
  2. Constructive dismissal: in Potter v New Brunswick Legal Aid Services Commission, 2015 SCC 10, the Supreme Court clarified the test for when an employee has been constructively dismissed. The Court emphasized the importance of work, confirming that the withholding an employee’s work can amount to constructive dismissal. Read more about the judgment here.
  3. Upheaval in unjust dismissal law under Canada Labour Code: the Federal Court of Appeal’s judgment in Wilson v Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, 2015 FCA 17 departed from the well-established approach to unjust dismissal complaints under the Canada Labour Code, and rejected that employees under that regime can only be terminated for just cause. The Supreme Court has granted leave to appeal the judgment, and workers’ advocates will be closely watching the results of that appeal. Read more about the Court of Appeal’s judgment here.
  4. Expanded worker remedies under the Employment Standards Act: important remedial gains for Ontario workers took effect in February of this year, pursuant to amendments to the Employment Standards Act. These amendments included the elimination of a cap on recovery for unpaid wages and increases to the time limits to bring employment standards complaints. Read more about these developments here.
  5. Ousting of the federal Conservatives: while this was not a legal development, there is no question that this change will dramatically impact workers’ rights going forward. The Liberal government has promised to repeal several anti-union laws passed by the Conservatives. Read more about those campaign promises here.

[This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, which cannot be given without consideration of your individual circumstances.]