Federal Court of Appeal reinstates adjudicator’s award for wrongful dismissal of former Shaw Communications worker

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The Federal Court of Appeal has overturned a Federal Court ruling in a case involving Shaw Communications Canada Inc. and a former employee who sued for wrongful dismissal.

The appeal, presided over by Justice Gleason, challenged the initial judgment which had set aside an adjudicator’s decision favoring the employee.

Background

CA, who worked with Shaw Communications for over seven years, was dismissed from her position in April 2016.

Shaw Communications cited her inability to meet sales and e-billing targets as the cause for dismissal. However, CA filed a complaint under the Canada Labour Code, asserting her dismissal was unjust.

Adjudicator’s initial award

An adjudicator, Susan Kaufman, found CA’s dismissal was indeed unjust, awarding her damages for lost salary, benefits, and severance pay, along with interest and full indemnity costs.

“By way of remedy, the Adjudicator ordered the respondent to pay the appellant damages, consisting of lost salary and benefits for the period until the appellant commenced work elsewhere and severance pay under the Code,” the court said.

That ruling was appealed to the Federal Court.

Federal Court’s decision

The Federal Court, however, found procedural fairness violations in the adjudicator’s decision. It ruled that the adjudicator incorrectly determined sales-related duties were not central to CA’s role and inadequately weighed statistical evidence regarding her performance.

Consequently, the Federal Court deemed the adjudicator’s remedy unreasonable and ordered a reevaluation of the case. That ruling was appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal

Federal Court of Appeal’s ruling

Justice Gleason disagreed with the Federal Court’s findings, stating that both the nature of CA’s duties and the adequacy of Shaw’s evidence were indeed contested in the adjudicator’s hearing.

Gleason asserted that the Federal Court improperly reweighed evidence, which led to an incorrect conclusion. Moreover, the Court of Appeal found the adjudicator’s inclusion of severance pay in the damages and the award of full indemnity costs to be reasonable.

The Court of Appeal’s decision reinstates the adjudicator’s initial award, recognizing it as a fair compensation for the unjust dismissal.

For more information, see Amer v. Shaw Communications Canada Inc., 2023 FCA 237 (CanLII)

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