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SHIELDS HUNT DUFF STRACHAN is committed to advancing the

labour movement in Canada.


SHIELDS HUNT DUFF STRACHAN is a union-side labour firm that represents a wide range of unions. We provide services to local and national unions with members working across the private and public sectors. 


The team is well-positioned to provide legal advice and representation in all aspects of labour law, including labour arbitration, mediation, negotiation, and adjudication.


Our lawyers frequently represent unions before:


  • arbitrators;

  • the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board;

  • the Canadian Industrial Relations Board;

  • the Ontario Labour Relations Board; and

  • the Federal Court of Canada.


We can provide comprehensive and experienced advice on any labour relations matter and provide service to unions throughout Canada.


We are pleased to contribute papers or speakers to union events.


The working conditions of unionized employees are governed by the collective agreement negotiated between their union and the employer. Unionized employees’ rights concerning all aspects of the workplace are usually covered in a collective agreement, including, pay, vacation, overtime, grievances, promotion, layoff, seniority and hours. Furthermore, unionized employees cannot be unilaterally dismissed or disciplined unless just cause can be proven. Examples of just cause include misconduct or incompetence. Illness can sometimes qualify as just cause, but only in certain circumstances.


If you are a unionized employee in Ontario and you have been terminated from your position without just cause contrary to your collective agreement, you must pursue your rights under your particular collective agreement. If there are special provisions provided for termination of an employee under the collective agreement then these provisions must be followed.


If an employee is terminated without just cause, a labour board may award damages based on the actual losses of the employee. The goal is to put the employee back in the position he or she would have been in had the collective agreement been properly followed. A wrongly terminated employee may also ask to be “made whole”. This means that the employee is credited for lost seniority rights and compensated for lost wages during the period of unemployment. Remember that you have a duty to look for a job right away, to the extent it is possible, in order to minimize these losses.


An employer also has a duty to accommodate an employee who experiences adverse effect discrimination as a result of a seemingly neutral workplace rule that has a negative impact on an employee. For example, an employer may institute a new procedure in the work place that results in a disabled employee being unable to fulfil his or her duties. In these situations, an employer has a duty to accommodate the disabled worker unless to do so would cause the employer undue hardship. Undue hardship may occur when accommodating an employee would affect the rights of other employees or impact on work place safety. Arbitrators are often called on to assess situations where an employer has claimed undue hardship.

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