Federal Court of Appeal Quashes Classification Decision for Third Time

In a recent court decision, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the Canada Border Service Agency to reject the classification grievances of over 45 management employees.

The Court found that CBSA’s decision was unreasonable because it refused to reclassify the managers’ position on the basis that it did not perform certain decision-making responsibilities, when this was not actually a requirement of the classification rules or guidelines. Furthermore, the Court found that CBSA had misapprehended and failed to identify any mistake in the Classification Grievance Committee report which had recommended upwardly reclassifying the managers’ position.

This is the third time these employees have been successful in overturning CBSA’s decision to reject their grievances. Recognizing the exceptional nature of these circumstances, the Court of Appeal concluded that it would not be appropriate to return the decision to CBSA for redetermination a fourth time.

As the Court stated: “This Court’s intervention rests on its core strength which is determining if the justification for a decision is reasonable. Having found that the Deputy Head’s rejection of the Committee’s recommendation was unreasonable, and considering that in three attempts to justify his conclusion, the Deputy Head has been unable to formulate a rationale which withstands review on a deferential standard, this Court is not overreaching in requiring the Minister to accept an expert recommendation that he is unable to justify rejecting.”

The Court therefore ordered CBSA to render a new decision, consistent with the recommendation of the Classification Grievance Committee. This should bring to a close more than a decade of litigation that the Appellants have had to pursue to have their classification grievances appropriately addressed by their employer.

The Appellants were represented by Andrew Raven and Morgan Rowe of RavenLaw.