HRMT 322v4: Employment Law in Canada Report a Broken Link

Welcome to HRMT 322: Employment Law in Canada, a seven-unit, senior-level course that introduces you to Canadian individual employment law. This branch of law is concerned with rules that govern the relations between employers and employees, and applies primarily to non-unionized workers. Employment law includes rules developed and recognized by the common law, as well as the floor of rights normally provided by protective or prescriptive legislation. This course introduces you to such subject areas as identifying a contract of employment; creating and modifying the employment relationship; common-law obligations of employee and employer; employer’s statutory obligations to its employees; human rights legislation in the workplace; and termination of employment.

Required Readings


Unit 1


A. Khan, Historical roots of employment law A thumbnail sketch of the historical background through which the employer-employee relationship evolved from its primitive roots in Europe.
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G. England, Identifying a contract of employment: Who is an 'employee' and who is the 'employer'?

In this chapter from the second edition of Individual Employment Law (Irwin Law Inc., 2008), England analyzes the definition of an "employment relationship" and the determination of who in that relationship is the "employer."

Pointe-Claire (City of) v. Quebec (Labour Court) [1997] 1 S.C.R. 1015 This Supreme Court of Canada case draws attention to certain essential elements of the employer-employee relationship as defined in law. It deals with the question, “Who is an employer in a tripartite situation?”
J. Foster, Tips for reading court decisions

The course author has created this useful guide to finding, reading, and interpreting the decisions rendered by the various levels of courts in Canada.

Unit 2


Blackmore v. Cablenet Ltd., (1994), 8 C.C.E.L. (2d) 174 (Alta QB) This 1994 case illustrates the rule of unconscionability, a principle established by courts to ensure that a party to a contract who is in a dominant or controlling position does not take undue advantage of his or her unequal bargaining power.

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Unit 3


Petrone v. Marmot Concrete Services Ltd. [1996], 18 C.C.E.L. (2d) 170 (Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench) This 1996 case illustrates how an employer—in addition to enforcing either summary dismissal for such situations as gross incompetence or dismissal by giving contractual notice—is in a very strong position vis-à-vis an employee.

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Wallace v. United Grain Growers Ltd., [1997] 3 S.C.R. 701 This Supreme Court of Canada decision illustrates the basic rationale for an employer’s right to discard unwanted or unneeded labour. Primarily, the arguments for this employer’s right appear to hinge upon finding fault with the employee’s work, or providing due notice, or wages in lieu of notice.

Unit 4


Eastmond v. Canadian Pacific Railway. [2004] FC 852 This Federal Court decision examines the issues of employee privacy that arise when an employer installs security cameras in the workplace.
Merk v. International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, Local 771, [2005] 3 S.C.R. 425, 2005 SCC 70 This case examines the operation of whistle-blower legislation in the workplace. In it, the Supreme Court wrestles with the question of legislative interpretation to give maximum effect to a protective statute.

Unit 5


Vriend v. Alberta, [1998] 1 S.C.R. 493 This Supreme Court of Canada case address the use of s.15 to expand the list of protected grounds in Alberta’s human right legislation.
Barnetson, B. (2010). Effectiveness of Complaint-Driven Regulation of Child Labour in Alberta. This article, from Just Labour journal (vol. 16), develops our understanding of the employment
experiences of children (ages 9-11) and adolescents (ages 12-14) in Alberta, with particular focus on illegal employment and the effectiveness of complaint-based regulation.

Unit 6


Machtinger v. HOJ Industries Ltd., [1992] 1 S.C.R. 986 This 1992 Supreme Court of Canada case decided that where an employee is dismissed without cause, it is incumbent on the employer to give “reasonable notice of termination,” irrespective of the specific contract of employment.
McKinley v. BC Tel, 2001 S.C.C. 38, [2001] 2 S.C.R. 161. This 2001 case deals with the termination of employment based on dishonesty of the employee, where the degree of dishonesty became a factor in the judgment.

Unit 7


Fudge, J. (1999) New Wine into Old Bottles: Updating Legal Forms to Reflect Changing Employment Norms From UBC Law Review, 33, 1, 129-152. The author argues that current definitions of employment and employees do not address the range of new employment relationships possible in modern society.
Fudge, J. (2010). Canadian Perspective on the Scope of Employment Standards, Labor Rights, and Social Protection: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly From the Comparative Labor Law and Policy Journal, 31, 2, 253-266. The author argues that the federal government is missing opportunities to protect people working at the margins of the traditional employment relationship, and that their approach actually tends to reinforce social exclusion, as opposed to promoting social inclusion.