Labour Law

Labour law in Ontario refers to the legal regime that employees, employers, and unions are subject to in a unionized workplace. In Ontario, the key piece of legislation that applies to this area of law is the Labour Relations Act, 1995 which provides that every person is free to join a trade union of the person's own choice and to participate in its lawful activities.

The Labour Relations Act, 1995 sets out a detailed process that unions must follow to obtain bargaining rights for a group of employees. Likewise, there are detailed rules and time limits that apply to employers when they are facing a certification application or dealing with unionized employees. For example, the Labour Relations Act, 1995 prohibits an employer from refusing to employ or otherwise penalizing a person because they are a member of a union.

In our practice, we provide legal advice to employers, unions, and employees on a wide range of labour disputes such as:


  • Certification Applications - When a union is looking to certify an employer, they will bring a certification application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board. This triggers an obligation on the employer to respond within a very short time frame. 

  • Collective Bargaining - The Collective Agreement is essentially an employment contract between the union and the employer, and which will apply to all of the employees who fall within the bargaining unit. 

  • Interest Arbitration - Interest Arbitration is a special procedure designed for a select few industries which are prohibited from striking due to their unique importance. The Interest Arbitration process is used to resolve disputes arising out of collective bargaining.

  • Grievances / Rights Arbitration - When a dispute arises with respect to the application or interpretation of a Collective Agreement either party may file a Grievance. When this occurs, the matter will typically proceed to a hearing before an Arbitrator. 

  • Duty of Fair Representation - Unionized employees are represented exclusively by their union and therefore sacrifice certain rights (such as the right to bring civil actions in court) when they become unionized. Unions, therefore, have a corresponding duty to represent their members in a manner that is not arbitrary, discriminatory or in bad faith. When a union fails in this duty, a "Duty of Fair Representation" complaint may be brought against the union and before the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

If you or your organization requires legal advice regarding labour law related issues, please contact us today.