Home Featured B.C. Supreme Court dismisses worker’s claim against hospital, cites lack of jurisdiction over union and workers’ comp

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses worker’s claim against hospital, cites lack of jurisdiction over union and workers’ comp

by HR Law Canada

The Supreme Court of British Columbia has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a unionized former resident care attendant at Mount Sinai Hospital of Marie Esther Society.

It concluded that the court lacks jurisdiction over the claims because they are covered under exclusive jurisdiction regimes.

L.C., who worked at the hospital from 1999 to 2020, alleged that managerial misconduct and a lack of accommodation led to her resignation and caused mental injuries. However, the court determined that these issues fall under the jurisdiction of labour arbitration and workers’ compensation boards, not the civil courts.

“The essential nature of her dispute is not within the original jurisdiction of the B.C. Supreme Court,” the court said. It emphasized that disputes related to employment terms must be resolved through the grievance and arbitration procedure managed by the Hospital Employees’ Union, to which L.C. belongs.

Further, claims regarding mental injuries allegedly incurred at work are exclusively handled by WorkSafeBC and the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal.

“Under s. 127 of the Workers Compensation Act, no civil action lies in respect of injury or disablement arising out of and in the course of employment,” the court said. “This is part of the ‘grand bargain’ that permitted for comprehensive workers’ compensation over a century ago.”

The decision also touched on issues with L.C.’s representation by the union, highlighting that any dissatisfaction with union representation should be directed to the B.C. Labour Relations Board, not the courts.

Despite the dismissal, the court noted that this does not preclude judicial review of decisions made under these specialized statutory regimes, which is the appropriate channel for such disputes.

Key takeaways from this ruling

  • Jurisdiction limits: The B.C. Supreme Court confirmed it does not have jurisdiction over employment and workers’ compensation disputes covered under specific statutory regimes.
  • Union representation: Disputes regarding union representation must be handled by the B.C. Labour Relations Board.
  • Role of specialized tribunals: The ruling underscores the role of specialized tribunals like WorkSafeBC and the Labour Relations Board in handling specific types of disputes, limiting the scope for civil actions in these matters.

For more information, see Chestacow v Mount St. Mary Hospital of Marie Esther Society, 2024 BCSC 783 (CanLII),

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