Many of our former blogs dealt with Ontario employees whose employment is governed by Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000. However, there are thousands of employees who, unbeknownst to them, fall within federal jurisdiction. If you are one of them, what does that mean?
Most people are aware that employees who are employed by the federal government or its agencies are generally unionized. These employees typically resolve workplace disputes in accordance with the terms and conditions stipulated in their collective agreements. However, did you know that there are literally thousands of employees who are not unionized and who are, nonetheless, federally regulated? For instance, bank employees, people working in telecommunications companies or truckers who are employed in trucking companies with national or international reach, are subject to federal laws and regulations pursuant to the Canada Labour Code, 1985.
Under certain circumstances, being a non-unionized and federally regulated employee may prove to be an advantage. Unlike “regular” non-unionized employees who are governed by the laws of contract and the common law, federally regulated employees may actually claim reinstatement when terminated from their job. Typically, a non-unionized federally regulated employee can only be dismissed from their job in the event of a discontinuance of function (colloquially referred to as “restructuring”) or for just cause. If the employer is unable to prove the former or the latter grounds for dismissal then the employee may seek the remedy of reinstatement with full backpay from a federal adjudicator. This right is akin to the right of reinstatement that is normally only found in unionized workplaces.
In addition to the above, a federally regulated employee can also commence a civil wrongful dismissal lawsuit for damages of pay in lieu of notice, among other forms of relief, at common law.
Finally, unlike a unionized employee who typically has to address their workplace disputes with the aid of a union representative, a non-unionized federally regulated employee can directly seek representation from a lawyer of their choice.
Over the years we have represented numerous employees in the banking, trucking and telecommunications industries and have successfully utilized the aforementioned legal avenues. A great deal of our clients were surprised to find out that their employment fell within federal jurisdiction. It is always best to consult a qualified employment lawyer because you are likely to be positively surprised about the rights you may have.