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. This seminar will be taught partly as an advocacy course, encouraging students to apply these concepts to persuasive and coherent oral and written arguments.

Labour & Employment Law and Policy Colloquium

The Canadian labour market has been rapidly evolving in the past thirty years. 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 a topic of their choosing. 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; alternative models for collective worker representation and bargaining.

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

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.

Occupational Health & Safety

The COVID-19 pandemic put occupational health and safety (OHS) back into the headlines.  At the height of the crisis we read about ‘essential workers’ who were put in positions where they were likely to experience increased risk of exposure, but who did not feel their employers provided adequate protections, whether through the provision of personal protective equipment or barriers, or through measure in insure social distancing was maintained. These challenging conditions put our OHS regime through a stress test and revealed both strengths and weaknesses.  
 
Concern with OHS of course is hardly new and not confined to pandemics.  In 2019, the last year for which we have national statistics, Canadian workers’ compensation boards accepted around 270,000 lost-time injuries and illnesses and 925 work-related fatalities.  For reasons we will discuss, these figures under-estimate the toll that work takes on workers’ lives and health, but it is also likely the case that work is less hazardous now than it has been in the past.  

In this seminar we will explore how occupational health and safety regulation has contributed to improvements, where they have been made, but also the ways in which regulation still fails to all protect workers.
 
We focus on legal and policy dimensions of regulating hazardous working conditions.  The nature of the subject matter lends itself to a multidisciplinary approach, including economic, scientific and sociological perspectives, which are considered, as appropriate, throughout the course.

Topics to be examined may include: (1) the human cost of work-related disability; (2) theoretical perspectives on occupational health and safety regulation; (3) historical development of OHS regulation in Canada; (4) current dimensions of work-related injury, disease and fatality, and problems with existing statistics; (5) overview of the internal responsibility system mandated by statute, including worker rights to know, to be consulted and to refuse unsafe work; (6) the role of external enforcement including the powers of inspectors; (7)prosecuting and defending regulatory offences under the OHS Act; (8) the role of criminal sanctions; (9) comparative perspectives; (10) current law reform initiatives.  Of course, we will also consider the special circumstances of OHS regulation in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The seminar will be taught on Zoom, however, opportunities for in-person class meetings at times when there are no regularly scheduled courses have been set aside.  More details on how we will combine Zoom teaching and in-person meetings will be available at the beginning of the semester.  However, students will have the option of attending in-person meetings virtually.

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, including its silences and deficiencies (particular sectors of emphasis may include post-secondary education, health care, migrant work, etc.). 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, including considering the relationship between different social and economic goals, individual and collective rights, and in relation to multinational corporations, and more. The exploration will take us into the transnational context of collective bargaining (e.g. impact of trade agreements, capital flight, transnational organizing, etc). Considerable attention will be given to exploring scenarios in which collective bargaining law does not apply and in which alternatives have emerged.  

Labour & Employment Law

The COVID-19 pandemic has put labour and employment law in the spotlight, raising questions about job-protected sick and caregiving leaves, temporary lay-offs and health and safety on the job.  In order to address these controversies, it is necessary to have a foundational understanding of labour and employment law, which this course aims to provide.  This field of law includes the common law governing the individual contract of employment, minimum standards legislation and regulations, employment discrimination, and collective bargaining law. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms as it pertains to labour and employment law will also be explored, as will transnational law, including that generated by the International Labour Organization and labour protection clauses in international trade agreements. In addition to law, the course examines the role of legal institutions, including government departments such as ministries of labour, administrative tribunals, such as labour relations boards and human rights tribunals, grievance arbitrators and courts, It also is attentive to the historical, social, economic and political context within which labour and employment law is created, operates and is enforced.  The course is an excellent option for students seeking an overview of the field, and also provides a good foundation for those wishing to take more advanced courses in the area.

The course will be taught on Zoom however a few times have been reserved for in-person meetings at hours when there are no other regularly scheduled classes.  I will provide more detailed information on how those times will be used at the beginning of the course. Any large class meetings (potentially 3) will be recorded and made available to all students.

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.

 Note: The instructor of this course/ seminar has indicated a preference or willingness to conduct optional in-person meetings for students. All in-person meetings will be optional for students until the general return to in-person instruction that is expected for the winter 2022 term. Any in-person meetings in the fall 2021 term that cover examinable course content will be accompanied by a remote participation option, such as a separate remote class, live dual delivery, and/ or a recording of the class, at the instructor’s discretion. More information will follow from the instructor after students have enrolled; please also note that there is no guarantee of in-person instruction in any course or seminar.

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.