In Canada, jurisdiction over employment law is normally within the authority of each province or territory, unless the employer or activity falls under the federal jurisdiction. This is a straightforward distinction under normal circumstances, but, in certain areas, it remains unclear. This was the case in Fox Lake Cree Nation v. Anderson, 2013, in which the Federal Court of Canada set aside the order of an adjudicator appointed by the Canadian Labour Ministry because that adjudicator did not have the jurisdiction to hear the complaint made by the terminated employee. In a nutshell, the court found that the operations of the workplace, the negotiations office, was not properly characterized as being a federal work, undertaking or business within the meaning of the Canada Labour Code. This meant that the matter did not fall under federal jurisdiction.
Facts of the case and decision
The Fox Lake Cree Nation is an Indian Band as defined by the Indian Act. The negotiations office is considered an internal consulting office that negotiates contracts on behalf of the band with Manitoba Hydro regarding hydroelectric projects. Specifically, the office negotiates business opportunities, training and employment, project development, environment and resources, adverse effects and commercial terms.
For more, read my latest post on Slaw here.