In an extraordinary decision, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has just granted an interlocutory injunction prohibiting Loblaws Companies Limited and Loblaws Supermarkets Limited (“Loblaws”) from maintaining minimum scheduling requirements for part-time employees, pending resolution of outstanding grievance arbitrations on the issue. See: Sawyer v. Loblaws, 2011 ONSC 7251.
The decision is particularly troublesome from an employer advocate’s perspective for many reasons, not all of which can be discussed in a short blog. But let’s briefly consider a few.
Normally, this type of dispute is subject to the adage “work now, grieve later” and is to be resolved by a labour arbitrator who, by statute and collective agreement, generally has exclusive jurisdiction over the dispute and recognized expertise. Further, arbitration can be expedited (as indeed is happening in this case) and arbitrators can make interim orders (short of reinstating an employee on an interim basis). In this case, however, the union has bypassed the arbitration mechanism and obtained interim relief in a parallel forum.