York Region District School Board v. Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario

(Ontario) (Civil) (By Leave)


Charter of Rights — Unreasonable search and seizure — Reasonable expectation of privacy — Private communications of teachers captured by screenshots taken by school principal and used for discipline purposes — What standard of review applies to labour arbitrator’s decision adjudicating employee’s privacy claim — Whether Charter applies to school boards — Scope and content of employee’s privacy rights in workplace, either under s. 8 of Charter or common law.


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The private communications of two teachers, recorded on their personal, password-protected log were read and captured by screenshots taken by their school principal, and then used by the respondent school board (“Board”) to discipline them. The union filed a grievance against the written reprimand issued to the teachers (“Grievors”) claiming the Board violated the Grievors right to privacy by assessing private digital information without reasonable cause and using that information as the basis for an investigation that led to the discipline.

By the time the grievance was heard, the written reprimands had been removed from the Grievors’ records. But the parties agreed to move forward with the issue of the alleged breach of the right to privacy.

The arbitrator dismissed the grievance against the Board. The majority of the Divisional Court upheld the arbitrator’s decision and dismissed the appeal. The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and quashed the award of the arbitrator.

Lower Court Rulings

June 17, 2020
Ontario Superior Court of Justice

2020 ONSC 3685
Application for judicial review, for an order setting aside award of arbitrator, dismissed
June 21, 2022
Court of Appeal for Ontario

2022 ONCA 476
Appeal allowed and arbitrator’s award quashed. There is no need to return the matter for further arbitral proceedings.