In the case of Brown v. University of Windsor, involving the
University of Windsor and the president of its unionized Faculty
Association, the Ontario Court of Appeal had a chance to clarify
the situations in which arbitrators would have exclusive
jurisdiction over labour disputes. The claim involved allegations
that the University failed to satisfy requirements of the
Employment Insurance Premium Reduction Program ("EIPRP")
governed by the Employment Insurance Act, S.C. 1996, c.
The requirements of the Act were not part of the
collective agreement, which gave rise to the Faculty
Association's belief that an arbitrator had no place deciding
the matter. The Court, on the other hand, found that if the facts
of the dispute, and not the legal characterization, fell within the
ambit of the collective agreement, this would be enough to place
the matter firmly into the hands of the arbitrator.
In this case, the Act imposes an obligation on an
employer to provide, and creates an entitlement for the employees
to receive, cash or benefits. Accordingly, even though the
collective agreement does not deal with the EIPRP specifically, the
fact that it touches the pay and benefits portion of the collective
agreement this is enough to trigger the jurisdiction of the
Written with the assistance of Alex Kokach, summer
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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.
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.
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