First, the Court rejected the notion that a public sector
committee that makes disciplinary decisions can refuse to provide
evidence about its deliberations on the basis of "deliberative
secrecy." The Court held that the relationship between public
sector employers and employees is not public in nature, and that it
was therefore reasonable for the arbitrator to order the members of
the disciplinary committee to testify.
Second, the majority of the Court reaffirmed that the standard
of a review of an arbitrator's decision is reasonableness, save
in very limited circumstances where the question at issue is one of
law, of "central importance to the legal system as a whole and
[...] outside the decision maker's area of expertise."
When an arbitrator interprets his or her home statute or makes an
evidentiary or procedural decision, the standard of review is
Public sector employers should consequently be aware that (i)
evidence pertaining to deliberations of an employment nature held
in camera may be summoned by an arbitrator; and (ii) that
such arbitral decisions will generally be shown deference by a
Written with the assistance of Stéphane Erickson,
articling student in Ottawa
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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.
A former teacher at Bodwell High School has learned a valuable lesson from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal— it is not discriminatory for an employer to offer child-related benefits to only employees with children.
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