VSLO’s Victories

We’ve highlighted a few of the many victories that VSLO has won on behalf of individual workers and unions.


University of British Columbia v. Kelly, 2016 BCCA 271

Read the Decision on CanLII

In this case, the BC Court of Appeal restored the highest-ever award of damages by the BC Human Rights Tribunal for injury to dignity in a discrimination case. This decision reversed the Supreme Court of British Columbia’s earlier decision to set aside the Tribunal’s original award of $75,000.

Craig Bavis and Allison Tremblay argued the cross appeal.

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British Columbia Teachers’ Federation v. British Columbia, 2014 BCSC 121

Read the Decision on CanLII

Following a 2011 victory for teachers finding that the B.C. government had unjustifiably breached teachers constitutionally protected freedom of association by stripping their contract and prohibiting bargaining with respect important working conditions, the Court had given the B.C. government 12 months to address the repercussions of that decision. When the Government failed to act within the 12 months and then passed legislation essentially identical to that found unconstitutional in 2011, the Court ordered a return of the deleted language to the collective agreement and awarded $2 million in Charter damages, the highest such award in Canadian history.

John RogersSteven Rogers and Amanda Merritt represented the BCTF in this important victory for B.C. teachers and all Canadian workers, along with Diane MacDonald, in-house counsel for the BCTF.

Tl’azt’en First Nation v. Joseph, 2013 FC 767

Read the decision on CanLII

The Federal Court upheld a $185,000 award for punitive and aggravated damages to a 30 year employee who was subjected to harassing and threatening conduct by his employer’s executive director and then wrongfully dismissed without notice or cause. The punitive and aggravated damages were found to be appropriate in light of the employer’s “deliberate, despicable, and deceitful treatment” of the employee.

Colin Gusikoski represented the employee in this important victory for mistreated employees in Canada.

Kelly v  UBC (No. 3), 2012 BCHRT 32 

Read the Decision on CanLII

In this case, the complainant was awarded $75,000 for injury to dignity, signalling the Tribunal’s willingness to make substantial injury to dignity awards in cases where the circumstances warrant. Prior to Kelly, the highest damages awarded for injury to dignity was $35,000 and the average was around $5000.

Marjorie Brown represented the complainant in this landmark case.

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British Columbia Teachers’ Federation v. British Columbia, 2011 BCSC 469

Read the decision on CanLII

After a long, challenging legal battle, the B.C. Supreme Court found that the B.C. Government unjustifiably breached teachers constitutionally protected freedom of association when it stripped class size and composition provisions and other provisions governing teacher working conditions and prohibited bargaining on those subject matters in the future.

John Rogers and Steven Rogers represented the BCTF in this important victory for B.C. teachers and all Canadian workers, along with Diane MacDonald, in-house counsel for the BCTF.

Canada (Attorney General) v. PHS Community Services Society, 2011 SCC 44

Read the Decision on CanLII

Known as the Insite decision, the Supreme Court of Canada held that the federal Health Minister’s decision to withdraw the supervised injection’s facility’ exemption to Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act was unconstitutional. In the words of the Court, the Minister’s decision was :

arbitrary, undermining the very purposes of the CDSA, which include public health and safety.  It is also grossly disproportionate: the potential denial of health services and the correlative increase in the risk of death and disease to injection drug users outweigh any benefit that might be derived from maintaining an absolute prohibition on possession of illegal drugs on Insite’s premises.

Marjorie Brown represented the British Columbia Nurses’ Union, who intervened on behalf of Insite.