The Labour Relations Board has upheld BC Arbitrator Stan
Lanyon's decision in Sunrise Poultry Processors Ltd. v.
United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 1518 (
discussed previously here) that the names of grievors and
witnesses should, as a general rule, be published in labour
The union argued that British Columbia's Personal
Information Protection Act (PIPA) prohibits the disclosure of
the names of grievors and witnesses in labour arbitration awards
without their consent. In the union's view, the increasingly
easy public access to arbitration awards because of sophisticated
internet search engines and free legal websites like Canlii mean
that individuals who participate in grievance arbitrations face
more significant privacy invasions than in years past.
However, the Board agreed with Arbitrator Lanyon that, like
court proceedings, labour arbitration decisions should be
'open' to public scrutiny. Labour arbitrations are not
purely private dispute resolution processes and, absent overriding
privacy interests, there is a public interest in having access to
them. Relevant personally identifying information in the decision
should be published.
That said, both Arbitrator Lanyon and the Board acknowledged
that some personal information is sufficiently private that it
should not be included in published arbitration decisions.
Arbitrators will exercise their discretion not to include or to
information which can easily be misused, such as birthdates,
social insurance numbers, and residential addresses;
sensitive personal information, such as health and medical
information, marital status, sexual orientation, religion and
political beliefs, which is not necessary to explain the
decision's reasons; and
personal information which could identify individuals who have
been subject to abuse, or to otherwise protect minors and innocent
In short, the status quo remains. But, the decision highlights
just one of the ways in which, like the Supreme Court of
Canada's decision in Alberta (Information and Privacy
Commissioner) v. United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401
discussed previously here), long-standing practices in labour
relations can come into conflict with new or evolving privacy
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.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).