Law Firm Partners and the Scope of Labour Law
(2015) 4:2 Canadian Journal of Human Rights 211
25 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2015 Last revised: 18 Jul 2015
Date Written: January 22, 2015
In this Article, we argue for purposive interpretation of statutory labour laws when issues of their “scope” or “range of application” arise. While this purposive approach has been rhetorically dominant, it often fails to fulfill its promise in our case law. Drawing on Tussman and tenBroek’s work, this Article calls attention to the structure of thought involved in legislative “classifications”, which is not a new idea but has been absent from current discussions. We stress that determining appropriate coverage of labour laws requires rational and pragmatic reasons for treating people differently which go beyond legislative classifications to the purposes of the specific law. This Article critically reviews the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on the application of Human Rights laws to law firm partners in McCormick v. Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, in an effort to show how the purposive approach is invoked, how it is then either ignored or applied incorrectly, and how the purposive approach ought to have been deployed if we had remained faithful to its structure and demands.
Keywords: purposive interpretation, statutory labour laws, human rights code, age discrimination, mandatory retirement, McCormick v. Fasken
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