Labour and Employment Law and Policy Colloquium

The Canadian labour market has been rapidly evolving. From a world in which the standard employment relationship was based on the ideal of full-time, full-year, continuous employment, we are moving toward a regime in which employers are less willing to make long-term commitments and in which part-time and temporary work are becoming more common. This change poses a challenge for labour and employment law, which was developed on the model of the standard employment relation. As a result, not only is labour and employment law in a state of flux, but it is arguably the case that the law has not adequately responded to the challenges posed by this changing reality.

This seminar examines contemporary issues in Canadian employment and labour law and policy and provides students with an opportunity to conduct supervised research on topic addressing labour and/or employment law reform. Policy analysis and evaluation will be emphasized, taking into account theoretical, historical and empirical perspectives. This will include focusing on identifying and assessing the underlying goals of labour and employment law, evaluating whether the existing law meets these objectives, and considering alternatives for reform. Particular topics to be addressed include: digital labour and gig work; minimum standard-setting in employment; and, alternative models for collective worker representation and bargaining.

This seminar is open to law students in both second and third year.

Dispute Settlement: Alternatives to Resolving Disputes

Students are introduced to an analysis of the dispute resolution continuum and will be required to identify where and how, through the different processes, dispute resolution is achieved. Students will gain an appreciation of the historical development and current application of various dispute resolution processes, including litigation, arbitration, negotiation, and mediation. The process of litigation as applicable to the adversarial system of justice will be examined. The seminar focuses on an under-standing of the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to dispute resolution as well as the appropriateness of when to use them. Students will also gain a
practical understanding of the theoretical aspects of certain processes available for resolving disputes within the legal system as a applicable to the Province of Ontario, including litigation and methods of alternative dispute resolution including negotiation and mediation. The seminar will provide an opportunity to develop and practice some of the techniques of dispute resolution under the supervision of members of academic staff.

Teaching methods include: lectures (Socratic and otherwise), facilitated class discussions, interactive small seminar and larger group exercises.

Dispute Settlement: Alternatives to Resolving Disputes

Students are introduced to an analysis of the dispute resolution continuum and will be required to identify where and how, through the different processes, dispute resolution is achieved. Students will gain an appreciation of the historical development and current application of various dispute resolution processes, including litigation, arbitration, negotiation, and mediation. The process of litigation as applicable to the adversarial system of justice will be examined. The seminar focuses on an under-standing of the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to dispute resolution as well as the appropriateness of when to use them. Students will also gain a
practical understanding of the theoretical aspects of certain processes available for resolving disputes within the legal system as a applicable to the Province of Ontario, including litigation and methods of alternative dispute resolution including negotiation and mediation. The seminar will provide an opportunity to develop and practice some of the techniques of dispute resolution under the supervision of members of academic staff.

Teaching methods include: lectures (Socratic and otherwise), facilitated class discussions, interactive small seminar and larger group exercises.

Theory and Practice of Mediation

Theory and Practice of Mediation offers students an interactive opportunity to develop an understanding of the utility and impact of mediation within the context of the dispute resolution spectrum. Students will gain knowledge through lecture, group discussions, simulations, placements in the Toronto Small Claims Court (circumstances permitting), and final evaluated mediations. As well, the seminar provides an opportunity for students to undertake a paper assignment to examine both theoretical and practical issues discussed during the term. Students will be engaged in a hands-on learning opportunity to explore negotiation, mediation styles and tactics, while being mindful of ethics and professional obligations.

Comparative Law: International & Comparative Labour Law

Artificial Intelligence and management-by-algorithms are reshaping the modern world of work in industrialized and developing countries. This is exemplified by the rise of platform work in the so-called gig-economy but is spreading in every sector and affects both blue-collar and white-collar occupations. Besides the intuitive risks in terms of automation of jobs, this seminar will focus specifically on less-known challenges, including algorithmic discrimination, augmented work surveillance, privacy invasion, increase in non-standard forms of work, and disruption of collective rights. We will look at these challenges from an international and comparative standpoint. We will focus specifically on international labour law and developments concerning the International Labour Organization, and other regional and national developments at the European level to compare them with the Canadian legal landscape.

Lawyer as Negotiator

Law schools have traditionally prepared lawyers for litigation and the courts, although in practice lawyers spend much of their time resolving disputes through forms of dispute resolution, including negotiation and mediation. Lawyer as Negotiation is designed to familiarize students with representative negotiation theory and practice, and specifically how theory informs the development of bargaining strategy in a legal setting. Students will attend weekly lectures, conduct negotiation simulations, and participate in small group discussions and reflections which will introduce and critique the principles of representative negotiation. Students will be expected to prepare detailed negotiation plans for their weekly negotiations as well as a final negotiation held at the end of the semester. Students will be coached and critiqued by dispute resolution practitioners throughout the year and will be encouraged to reflect on and discuss their weekly
negotiations in small working groups of either 14 or 16 students. The first half of the course will introduce students to distributive and integrative bargaining techniques as well as the importance of developing a negotiation strategy and a detailed plan for each negotiation. The second half of the course will focus on the importance of power, gender, culture, ethics, and emotions, among other issues, in representative negotiations.

Immigration Law

This course begins with an overview of the Canadian immigration system and international migration patterns with the objective of understanding who is coming to Canada and why. The basic features of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Regulations will then be discussed including: family sponsorship, economic immigration and inadmissibility. Embedded in this discussion will be an overview of how immigration decision-making takes place and the reviewability of immigration administrative decisions. A portion of the course will be devoted to looking at current topics in immigration law.

Individual Employment Relationship

This course offers an introduction to and comprehensive overview of employment law, which is the law (common law and statutory) governing the individual employment relationship. More than two-thirds of Canadian workers are not unionized; this course is about them and their employers. The goal of the course is to provide students with fluency in the theory, principles, doctrines and jurisprudence of the employee-employer relationship. Main topics include: the formation of an employment contract; express and implied contractual terms; workplace standards; employee and employer rights and obligations during employment, including human rights; the termination of the employment contract and the rights and obligations upon severance.

Law & Social Change: Construction Law

Construction is one of the largest industries in Canada, contributing a 7.5% to Canada’s GDP annually, and employing more than 1.4 million people. The construction industry is broad and multi-faceted. From residential construction including houses and condominiums to commercial construction, such as office towers and hotels to industrial and infrastructure development including hospitals, schools, roads, and transportation systems. In Toronto alone, the scale of current construction projects is evident from a simple look at the skyline. With recent changes to the Ontario legislation and large amounts of government funding being directed towards revitalizing provincial and federal infrastructure, now is the perfect time to study this area. Construction law is a rapidly growing specialized field which has developed into its own distinctive area of law, with a rich jurisprudential history in Canada. The industry is ordered by a complex web of private contracts, public laws and regulations, and a set of common law duties, unique to the industry in some instances. In this course, we will survey and examine the legal relationships between all stakeholders and the respective legal rights and remedies. The course will canvass the private law of contract, tort, real property, debtor-creditor, agency, administrative law and trusts. In addition, we will cover related topics concerning public law and legislation relating to sale of goods, personal property security, liens, trusts, and adjudication. This course will allow students to analyze construction law issues and apply these principles of law in a construction setting. Guest speakers will be invited to contribute to some discussions.

Labour & Employment Law

This course provides an introductory overview of labour and employment law in Ontario and beyond.  Students will work to build a conceptual framework for understanding the legal regulatory regimes governing the individual contract of employment and collective bargaining.  We will delve into the purposes and foundational assumptions of these regimes with a view to the scope and parameters of protection, and the veritable silences and deficiencies.  Expect to be exposed to a range of critiques, from reformist to radical, and to gain appreciation for how labour and employment law shapes, and in turn is shaped by, the everyday lives and demands of ordinary working people.  

The course is open to all and will provide a gateway into more advanced topics and courses in this and other fields.  It is especially well-suited for students wanting to deepen appreciation for social justice.