Court Dismisses Safety-Reprisal Complaint Related to Family Dispute

An employee who claimed that he was dismissed after sharing his concerns about the well-being of himself and his children and the “lifestyle of their mother”, has been denied a remedy under the safety-reprisal provisions of the Canada Labour Code.

The employee, who was in the midst of a family-law dispute, alleged that his employer, the Canada Revenue Agency, did nothing to respond to those concerns including notifying proper authorities. He said that had an occupational health and safety investigation been held and a report properly issued following his complaint, the whole matter would have turned out differently and he would not have been dismissed.

The Public Service Labour Relations Board dismissed his reprisal complaint, holding that the employer’s decision to terminate his employment was an extension of its decision to place him on leave without pay after he exhausted his sick leave credits and did not return to work.

The Federal Court of Appeal upheld the PSLRB’s decision, holding that the employee was “unable to show the link between the asserted danger and his employer, but for the alleged duty of the CRA to get involved in his personal life and to protect him and his children.”

This case is an example of how occupational health and safety laws will not extend to alleged safety concerns in an employee’s personal life of a purely private nature that do not affect an employee’s workplace safety.

Gaskin v. Canada (National Revenue), 2013 FCA 36 (CanLII)

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Adrian Miedema

About Adrian Miedema

Adrian is a partner in the Toronto Employment group of Dentons Canada LLP. He advises and represents public- and private-sector employers in employment, health and safety and human rights matters. He appears before employment tribunals and all levels of the Ontario courts on behalf of employers. He also advises employers on strategic and risk management considerations in employment policy and contracts.

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