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“When can I book my day in Court?” - (Haroun decision)

This may seem like an odd question, but it was exactly the one that Dr. Haroun was asking himself after being fired from his job at the National Research Council.

Here’s what happened: Dr. Haroun, a scientist-come-engineer, was dismissed from the NRC for “alleged performance issues”, which is classified as an “administrative reason for termination”.

(Versus a disciplinary reason: if you’re wondering what the difference is, just know that a disciplinary reason for termination usually comes from wilful misconduct, whereas an administrative reason is a barrier for which an employee is blameless, but is nevertheless preventing the employee from being able to do the job – it’s nothing personal.)

What is unique to the Haroun decision is the hitherto unexplored avenue that blossomed before Dr. Haroun on his quest for justice. You see, Dr. Haroun’s employer (the NRC) is known as an “undesignated separate agency”, and it’s not alone. Undesignated separate agencies are (cue drumroll):

  • the National Research Council
  • the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
  • the National Energy Board
  • the National Film Board of Canada
  • the Officer of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions

If you’re gainfully employed by one of the foregoing, get out your sticky-notes. Next, imagine (but not too hard) that you are fired for an administrative reason. Before the Haroun decision, you were pretty much stuck with the traditional grievance process, without access to arbitration. But the judge in Haroun thought that was pretty unfair, and declared that an employee terminated for administrative reasons could proceed by way of a civil action at the Federal Court (as long as they were part of an undesignated separate agency, as we mentioned).

The bottom line is, Dr. Haroun didn’t like the result from his grievance process, and is now heading to the Courthouse for a second opinion. And if you’re ever in the same situation, remember that you can too - just make sure you qualify:

a) Are you a member of an undesignated separate agency?

b) Were you terminated for administrative reasons?

c) Did you start the grievance process?

If the answer to all these is ‘yes’, then you’re clear for take-off! We in the Legal corner will back you up if you have a strong case.

Publish Date: 08-MAR-2016 10:48 AM