In February, the Supreme Court released reasons in Bernard v. Canada (Attorney General),
2014 SCC 13, a case involving a CRA employee who objected to
providing her home contact information to the union that was
required to represent her despite her non-member status.
The union had sought the contact information to fulfill its
responsibilities and was eventually successful in obtaining a PSLR
Board order granting it access. On judicial review, the Federal
Court of Appeal held that the Board had not breached the
employee's Charter and privacy rights by ordering
disclosure against her wishes.
A majority of the Supreme Court agreed.
It held that the union had a number of duties imposed upon it by
statute, including a duty to fairly represent all employees in the
bargaining unit that could not be waived. The union's duties
required it to have the means to communicate with bargaining unit
employees quickly. It would be handicapped in performing these
duties if it was denied access to information that could assist in
their performance and that was possessed by the employer. Access to
work contact information alone was insufficient for a variety of
Federal privacy legislation was not breached in making the
employee's home contact information available to the union. The
purpose for which the union wanted the information (to represent
employee interests) was a use consistent with the purpose of its
collection (to contact employees concerning their terms and
conditions of employment for the appropriate administration of the
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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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