Denis Gilbert v. Syndicat de professionnelles et professionnels du gouvernement du Québec

(Que.) (Civil) (By Leave)


Labour relations - Unions - Labour relations — Union — Duty of representation — Discretion of union to submit claim to arbitrator — Arbitrator reserving his jurisdiction in order to rule on any difficulty relating to application of his decision — Whether, once arbitrator has expressly ruled on one aspect of grievance that was submitted to him and has overturned applicant’s dismissal with full compensation as of date of dismissal, arbitrator becomes “functus officio” in relation to that conclusion — Discretion of union in relation to that conclusion of arbitration award — Whether it is open to union to decline to comply with that conclusion of arbitration award without exposing itself to liability under section 47.2 of Labour Code — Whether ALT usurped powers of grievance arbitrator by declining to give effect to that conclusion of arbitration award, and applicable standard of review in this case.


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After the respondent, the Syndicat de professionnelles et professionnels du gouvernement du Québec, filed a grievance to contest the dismissal of the applicant, Denis Gilbert, the arbitrator rendered a decision in which he restored the employment relationship between Mr. Gilbert and his employer with full compensation. The arbitrator [TRANSLATION] “reserve[d] jurisdiction to rule, at the request of a party, on any difficulty relating to the application of this arbitration award, in particular as regards the amounts that are owed”. After being reinstated, and following exchanges with his union, Mr. Gilbert filed a complaint against the union, alleging that it had breached its duty of representation by declining to return to the arbitrator for a ruling on questions of retroactive step raises and financial compensation (s. 47.2 of Labour Code).

The Commission des relations du travail (now the Administrative Labour Tribunal) dismissed the complaint. It concluded that the union’s decision not to apply to the arbitrator was based on an assessment of the case’s chance of success and that the union had not usurped the arbitrator’s function by deciding not to submit the claim. The Superior Court dismissed Mr. Gilbert’s motion for judicial review and the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, holding that there was no error in the Superior Court’s judgment.