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LABOUR RELATIONS - Civil actions - When available

Monday, December 09, 2019 @ 9:18 AM  

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Appeal by BB from the dismissal of his action against WP and the School District Board of Trustees. BB, a teacher with the School District, alleged defamation, breach of confidentiality and harassment by WP, a teacher at another school where BB’s child attended, and vicarious liability by the Board. BB and WP had undergone mediation to address their interpersonal conflict. They signed a memorandum of understanding intended to deal with the conflict. WP subsequently made a harassment complaint against BB that was determined to be unfounded. An investigation of BB’s subsequent complaint filed under the Respectful Working and Learning Environments Policy found two breaches of confidentiality and three potential harassment incidents. The applications judge found the complaints were work-related and were to be dealt with by means of the grievance procedure under the parties’ collective agreement, which precluded a court action.

HELD: Appeal allowed in part. The parties’ collective agreement and Respectful Working and Learning Environments Policy governed labour relations within the workplace. The applications judge erred in striking out the entire statement of claim without analyzing each paragraph separately. Only those portions of the statement of claim that relied on the essential character of the dispute as falling within the scope of the School District’s authority over the collective agreement or the Policy could be struck. Several paragraphs were struck on the basis the claims were grounded in the dispute resolution process to which the collective agreement and Policy applied, with the result that it was plain and obvious those claims could not succeed.

B.B. v. Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, [2019] N.J. No. 332, Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal, B.G. Welsh, F.P. O'Brien and W.H. Goodridge JJ.A., October 25, 2019. Digest No. TLD-December92019003