Joseph Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited

(Federal) (Civil) (By Leave)




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Employment law - Unjust dismissal - Administrative law - Standard of review - Respondent dismissing appellant without cause and paying him severance pay - Appellant complaining under Canada Labour Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. L-2 that he was “unjustly dismissed” - Application for judicial review of adjudicator’s decision, finding appellant’s dismissal was unjust, allowed - Appeal at Federal Court of Appeal dismissed - Whether presumptive standard of review for administrative decision-makers interpreting their home statute shifting from reasonableness to correctness in this case - Whether concerns over consistent statutory interpretation trump fundamental principles of administrative deference where matter is squarely within jurisdiction of administrative decision-maker - Whether Code’s unjust dismissal provisions alter common law rule entitling employers to lawfully dismiss employees without cause - If so, whether “unjust dismissal” means dismissal without just cause.

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited dismissed Mr. Wilson without cause and paid him severance pay. He complained under s. 240 of the Canada Labour Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. L-2 that he was “unjustly dismissed.” The labour adjudicator accepted Mr. Wilson’s submission and concluded the appellant, dismissed without cause, had made out his complaint of unjust dismissal under the Code. The Federal Court allowed the application for judicial review and remitted the matter back to the adjudicator for decision. The Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.

Lower Court Rulings

July 2, 2013
Federal Court

T-1531-12, 2013 FC 733
Application for judicial review allowed; matter returned to adjudicator to determine appropriate remedy.
January 22, 2015
Federal Court of Appeal

A-312-13, 2015 FCA 17
Appeal dismissed.