Two different panels of the BC Labour Relations Board have made
findings in favour of a union's covert video surveillance at
the IKEA store in Richmond, BC. The store
has operated behind a picket line since May 13.
With over 300 unionized employees on the outside looking in, and
only 27 who have decided to cross the picket line, most store
operations have continued. The kids' ballroom is
closed, and the 600 seat cafeteria isn't serving up Swedish
meatballs (or anything else), but otherwise the store is open and
sales are being made. That has made the union suspicious
that IKEA is gettting work done in violation of the law against
using replacement workers: - section 68 of the Labour
The union hired private investigators to covertly videotape
activity inside the store. It then sought to rely on still
pictures taken from the video of certain
individuals alleged to be working in violation of section
Both panels rejected IKEA's argument that
the covert video surveillance was in violation of the
Privacy Act and the Personal Information
Protection Act ("PIPA")and therefore should
not be admitted into evidence. The panels, deciding
the cases before them
independently, reached simiilar conclusions for similar
The key privacy finding of both panels was that the covert video
surveillance did not violate PIPA. It fit
within section 12(1)(c) which allows the collection of
personal information without consent when seeking consent
would compromise the investigation and when the surveillance is
reasonably necessary for an investigation or proceeding.
While a loss for IKEA in its dispute, the decisions set a
useful precedent for when an employer may need to carry out covert
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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