Labour and Employment Law and Policy Colloquium

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.

Labour Arbitration

This seminar is intended to provide an overview of the labour arbitration process applicable to unionized workplaces. The seminar primarily addresses grievance arbitration although it may also introduce interest arbitration, and mediation and med-arb as alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. The seminar will examine both procedural and substantive issues, including the regulatory framework, arbitral jurisdiction, pre-arbitration and arbitration processes and select issues in arbitration such as collective agreement interpretation, discipline and discharge, discrimination and accommodation, and privacy.

Comparative Law: International & Comparative Labour Law

This course charts three significant shifts in international labour law that came about as part of the neoliberal market economy in the name of ‘flexibility of labour and production.’ First of all, labour law has been reduced into a moral obligation, declaration-based, promotional, and ‘soft law’ through labour codes of Global Supply Chains (GSCs), the GSP+ status of the European Union and the like. Secondly, labour lawyers and activists have started using the private law of torts and damages against GSCs to redress the labour grievances for violations of their labour codes. Third, instead of focusing on formal, organized labour, with ‘freedom of association’ and collective bargaining, the ILO, international donor agencies, and labour NGOs are increasingly focusing on informal labour, child labour, bonded labour, home-based workers, and other such marginalized sectors of labour.
These changes reflect a major shift in the theory and philosophy of international labour law. This course will attempt to explain and explore this significant shift through initially a historical and interdisciplinary journey through the development of the theory and philosophy of international labour law. The second and major part of the course will explore labour law during the era of neoliberal globalization by exploring debates around the ILO/WTO in the 1990s and third world states, U.S., trade unions, labour, and human rights NGOs. The reading will comprise critical labour literature and case law related to complaints against GSCs in international fora and local courts.

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.

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.

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.

Collective Bargaining Law

This course provides an introduction to legal regimes governing collective employee representation in Ontario and beyond. Students will gain appreciation for collective bargaining legislation and its particular scope and parameters of protection. Consideration will be given to the role of the state in protecting freedom of association through statutory certification procedures, the articulation of exclusive bargaining rights and the duty to bargain in good faith. Students will confront the underlying commitments of states in governing collective employee representation, the influence of international labour law on collective bargaining regimes, and the deficiencies of existing regulations. Moreover, considerable attention will be given to the increasing impact of technology in workplaces, its challenges to existing regulations, and how collective labour rights represent a vital instrument to govern technological issues at work.