Bank of Montreal v. Yanping (Kate) Li

(Federal Court) (Civil) (By Leave)


Administrative law - Judicial review, Standard of review, Employment law, Unjust dismissal - Administrative law — Judicial review — Standard of review — Employment law — Unjust dismissal — Adjudicator’s jurisdiction — Whether employees can retrospectively release unjust dismissal rights under the Canada Labour Code, RSC 1985, c. L 2 — Whether the rule of law requires correctness review of an administrative decision that simply follows a challenged judicial decision?.


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Yanping (Kate) Li began working at the Bank of Montreal (BMO) in May 2011. On March 29, 2017, BMO terminated Ms. Li’s employment. On that same day, BMO provided Ms. Li with a package of documents which outlined information about two different severance options, one providing salary and benefits continuation, and the other providing a lump sum payment as well as other transition support services. On April 18, 2017, BMO confirmed by email that Ms. Li opted for the lump sum payment and forwarded her an agreement and release for her signature which she signed. BMO then paid Ms. Li as per the agreement. On May 22, 2017, Ms. Li filed a complaint of unjust dismissal with the Minister of Labour under the Canada Labour Code, RSC 1985, c. L 2, contrary to her release. An adjudicator was appointed to hear the complaint. As a preliminary matter, BMO raised the issue of the adjudicator’s jurisdiction given that Ms. Li had already signed a release. On April 20, 2018, the adjudicator determined that she had jurisdiction to hear the complaint. BMO sought judicial review of this decision at the Federal Court. The Federal Court, relying on National Bank of Canada v Canada (Minister of Labour), [1997] 3 FC 727, found the adjudicator’s preliminary decision to be reasonable and dismissed the judicial review. A subsequent appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal was also dismissed.