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Supreme Court of Canada

Arbitrators can award damages in lieu of reinstatement

Jurisdiction: - Alberta - British Columbia
Sector: - Education

Published in CBA National Labour and Employment Law Section Newsletter (September 2004)

In a recent decision -- Alberta Union of Provincial Employees v. Lethbridge Community College 2004 SCC 28 -- the Supreme Court of Canada considered whether an arbitrator can award damages in lieu of reinstatement if he or she finds that an employee had been dismissed without just cause. In the result, the court affirmed that while the general rule is that an employee should be reinstated in such cases, in exceptional circumstances, arbitrators can depart from this rule when they find that "the employment relationship is no longer viable."

In this case, an employee was dismissed for failing to meet deadlines and not completing her work. Although the arbitration board determined that the employee was indeed incompetent, it also found that the College failed to comply with the requirements for dismissing her on grounds of non-culpable deficiency.  read more »

Can an employer impose an administrative suspension on an employee facing criminal charges?

Jurisdiction: - Quebec
Sector: - Insurance

In Cabiakman v. Industrial Alliance Life Insurance Co., 2004 SCC 55, the Supreme Court of Canada ("SCC") addressed if/when an employer can impose an administrative suspension on a non-unionized employee facing criminal charges.

The employer and employee were located in Quebec thus governed by the Quebec Civil Code. However, the principles enunciated by the court likely also apply to employment contracts formed in Canada's other jurisdictions.


The employer was an insurance company and hired the employee as a sales manager in one of its branch offices. Approximately three months after he was hired, the employee was arrested at home for the attempted extortion of his securities broker. He was held in custody for about three days and then released after pleading not guilty to the charges. Shortly thereafter, a newspaper picked up the story and published an article.

The employer suspended the employee without pay, without investigating the situation and without providing the employee the opportunity to explain the situation.  read more »

Supreme Court of Canada confirms marital/family status in Ontario Code should be given broad/liberal interpretation

Jurisdiction: - Ontario

In B. v. Ontario (Human Rights Commission), 2002 SCC 66, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that "marital status" and "family status" in the Ontario Human Rights Code should be given a broad and liberal interpretation in the employment context.

Law firm Oglivy Renault has reviewed the decision in this article: "All in the Family: Supreme Court of Canada Decision on 'Family Status' and Employment" (December 1, 2002).