Fall 2017 - LBST 313 D100

Introduction to Canadian Labour Law (3)

Class Number: 2478

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 5 – Dec 4, 2017: Thu, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Sonya Sabet-Rasekh
    Office Hours: Thursdays 5:30-6:30 pm
  • Prerequisites:

    LBST 101 is strongly recommended.



An introduction to labour and employment law in Canada, covering both union and non-union sectors. The course will focus variously on: the principles and practice of the BC Labour Relations Code, the Canada Labour Code, BC Employment Standards Act. BC Human Rights Code, the Workers Compensation Act (WorkSafeBC), and the contested history of labour legislation and related common law.


This course will offer students an introduction to Canadian labour and employment law. It will cover the law applicable to both the union and non-union sectors and the three regimes of labour and employment law: i) labour relations and collective bargaining; ii) the regulatory and statutory regime; and iii) the common law.

With respect to the union sector, the seminar and readings will primarily cover the British Columbia Labour Relations Code, which regulates approximately 90% of the union employers and employees in the province.  However reference will also be made to the Canada Labour Code which regulates the remaining 10%.  With respect to the non-union sector – the almost 70% of British Columbia employees and their employers not covered by a collective agreement, their relationship is regulated primarily by principles from the common law – that is, largely court made law.

The course will also deal extensively with two vitally important statutes applicable to both the union and non-union sectors - the B.C. Employment Standards Act and the B.C. Human Rights Code.

Despite the commonly held view that British Columbia ranks along with Québec as one of the two most heavily unionized provinces in the country, in fact it ranked 7th of the 10 — 30% according to the 2014 statistics.

The course time and material will roughly reflect the relative importance of the legal regimes in union/non-union sectors in the province’s economic and political life. It will provide a brief history of labour and employment law in Canada and in British Columbia.  The course will explore the role of the law or its potential in addressing and/or reflecting social inequality, with a consideration of socio-economic and political contexts.  It will also provide a basis for critically analyzing labour and employment law—which is often described as one of the most overtly politically-influenced branches of the law.

Examples of the specific topics we will discuss include, for the union sector: organizing a union, unfair labour practices by employers and by unions, mediation/arbitration, bargaining in good faith, and strikes/lockouts.

For the non-union sector, we will deal with: who is an employee as opposed to self-employed, an agent, partner, or officeholder; the employee’s obligations to her/his employer; who is an employer; successor employers; the employer’s obligations to the employee; privacy issues in the employment relationship; and employee testing for drugs and alcohol.

While it’s important to bear in mind the different legal sectors – union/non-union, they are not watertight compartments. Students will find that significant developments in one sector may very quickly acquire similar significance in the other sector and vice versa.


  1. Students will become familiar with all aspects of Canadian and British Columbia labour and employment law.  They will be able to access the many online resources available without charge, including the applicable statutes as well as the decided cases, in both legal regimes.  They will be able to research specific issues and identify the relevant statutes and case law to enable them to answer questions that may arise in their own work life or in their professional life; or enable them to advise others on those issues.
  2. Students will also be able to critically analyze the importance and effect of the legislation, as well as decided cases from the Employment Standards Branch, the Courts, labour arbitrators, and the Labour Relations Board.


  • Assignment: Short paper 15%
  • Assignment: Problem solving/fact situation 20%
  • Research paper 30%
  • In-class test 20%
  • Participation in class discussion 15%


All assignments in this course must be completed for a final grade to be assigned.  The Morgan Centre for Labour Studies follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic honesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01-S10.04).  It is the responsibility of the students to inform themselves of the content of these policies available on the SFU website: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/teaching.html.



  • A book of readings and cases will be available at the SFU Bookstore.
  • Additional readings will be made available over the course of the semester.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html