Canada Labour Code Complaints and Unjust Dismissal

Not all employment-related matters can or should proceed in the same forum. For instance, unlike provincially-regulated employees, federally-regulated employees are sometimes able to pursue their employment matter through the Canada Labour Code (“CLC”).

It is important to receive legal advice quickly to determine how to best bring your claim and protect your rights. Some forums impose tight timelines, for instance under the CLC there is a 90-day deadline to file an unjust dismissal claim or 6 months to file a labour standards complaint through Employment and Social Development Canada (“ESDC”). It may also make sense to start multiple complaints before different bodies, through the Superior Court, Human Rights Tribunal and ESDC at the same time, depending on the circumstances.

The Canada Labour Code (CLC) is the legislation that governs federally regulated workers. These areas of work include:

    1. Bank institutions
    2. Marine shipping, ferry and port services
    3. Railway and road transportation that involves crossing provincial or international borders
    4. Grain elevators, feed and seed mills
    5. Uranium mining and processing
    6. Fisheries and business dealing with the protection of fisheries
    7. Radio and television broadcasting
    8. Most federal Crown corporations
    9. Private businesses necessary to the operation of a federal act

For more information on federally regulated businesses see “List of Federally Regulated Companies in Canada” by Monkhouse Law.

The CLC is the employment standards legislation that governs federally-regulated employees, similar to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) which governs provincially-regulated employees. While there are some differences in the legislation, the types of issues or ‘causes of action’ that may arise under either legislation is similar such as issues related to overtime pay or payment upon termination.

The CLC, unlike the ESA, allows non-managerial employees with at least one year of service to apply for unjust dismissal if they have been terminated. The CLC permits without-cause terminations to occur for non-managerial employees only in set circumstances, for instance if the employee’s function ceases to exist. If the employer is unable to prove the termination falls within one of the appropriate circumstances then the employee can receive reinstatement including back pay up until the time they get their job back. In this instance the employee can potentially receive more than they would have otherwise without making a CLC complaint.

Another advantage of the CLC process for employees are the cost consequences. In a civil proceeding, the ‘losing’ party often pays some of the ‘winning’ party’s legal fees. With a CLC complaint, employers can be ordered to repay legal fees of employees, however costs are not awarded against an employee for making an unsuccessful CLC complaint.

The process can be complex and often requires legal assistance to get a maximum result. At Monkhouse Law we often see individuals try to make CLC complaints themselves and end up short-changed for their efforts. We offer a free 30 minute consultation.

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