A Landmark Supreme Court Decision


Court confirms dismissal without just cause deemed unjust.

Ottawa, ON, (July 14, 2016 ) – In a decision today with wide-reaching impact, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled 6 to 3 in the case of Joseph Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited that non-unionized employees of federally regulated businesses are entitled to similar protections against dismissal as those granted to unionized employees.

The decision affects half a million non-unionized employees working in banks, telecommunications, airlines and other federal enterprises. Unionized employees who are terminated have long had the ability to seek reinstatement with back pay or other forms of compensation before independent labour arbitrators . This right has now been reconfirmed for  non-unionized employees as well.

“This is an extremely important judgment and confirms that employees of federally-regulated corporations and agencies cannot be terminated from their jobs except for just cause,” said Toronto employment James LeNoury, who represents Mr. Wilson and argued the case before the Supreme Court. “It overturns the Federal Court of Appeal ruling and brings the meaning of ‘unjust dismissal’ under the Canada Labour Code in line with the accepted interpretation that had been followed by the vast majority of adjudicators since the law’s introduction in 1978.”

The core issue in this case was whether federally regulated employers could dismiss employees without cause. Mr. Wilson was dismissed in 2009 after four years with federally regulated AECL. Although he’d been provided severance pay, he sought written reasons for his dismissal. Mr. Wilson suspected AECL’s true motive was reprisal for his earlier allegations of corruption in the department where he’d worked. The company provided a letter stating that Mr. Wilson was terminated on a non-cause basis and therefore refused to provide reasons. The Federal Court of Appeal upheld AECL ‘s decision.

“It is a relief to finally have this resolved,” said Mr. Wilson. “It wasn’t my intention to fight for all federally regulated non-unionized  employees, but I am glad that the Supreme Court has restored the law .”

The full decision can be accessed on the »» Supreme Court Site