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LABOUR RELATIONS - Employees - Wages and remuneration - Layoff pay - Severance pay - Entitlement and computation

Tuesday, May 09, 2017 @ 8:33 AM  

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Application by the Research Council Employees’ Association and five workers for judicial review of a decision by the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board dismissing their grievances. The Association was the bargaining agent for employees with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC). The Association filed a policy grievance in respect of the NRC's practice of computing severance pay for employees laid off from the Technical Category Bargaining Unit (TCBU). The five applicant workers were members of the TCBU who were laid off by the NRC in 2013. They filed individual grievances concerning severance amounts payable under the collective agreement. The Board determined the policy and individual grievances together, finding in favour of the NRC's position. The Board held that the act of cashing out accumulated severance benefits reduced the amount payable in respect of the layoff, so as to avoid pyramiding benefits under the maximum total benefit cap. The applicants sought judicial review.

HELD: Application dismissed. The interpretation of the collective agreement was at the core of the Board's expertise. The Board was alert to the applicants' submissions regarding prior adjudications on the issue. No reviewable error in the Board's interpretation of the collective agreement was established. The Board was entitled to find that no issue estoppel arose, as the prior adjudications raised by the applicants addressed other provisions of the collective agreement. Although the construction proposed by the applicants was plausible and the Board's reasons could have been more clear, the Board's decision was reasonable and within the range of possible outcomes.

Allen v. Canada (National Research Council), [2017] F.C.J. No. 409, Federal Court of Appeal, J. Gauthier, R. Boivin and J.M. Woods JJ.A., April 25, 2017. TLD-May82017004