The Federal Court dismissed a judicial review application brought by the Tl’Azt’En First Nation with respect to a decision of an adjudicator acting under the Canada Labour Code. The adjudicator found that the respondent Joseph had been unjustly dismissed, and awarded compensation for unjust dismissal, aggravated damages, and punitive damages.

The respondent Joseph had worked for the First Nation, located in northern British Columbia, for more than thirty years. At the time of his termination, he was the director of the First Nation’s health department. The adjudicator found that Mr. Joseph had been unjustly dismissed, and censured the First Nation for its “deliberate, despicable and deceitful treatment” of the respondent. The adjudicator awarded damages equal to 21 months’ severance ($101,304), $85,000 for aggravated damages, and $100,000 for punitive damages. The judicial review application only involved the awards for aggravated and punitive damages.

The Court found the awards to be reasonable and that there was no basis to interfere with them. Tremblay-Lamer J. rejected the submissions of the First Nation that “damages recoverable from a first nations band for the unjust dismissal of an employee were different than the damages recoverable from employers generally”. There was no basis in the caselaw for such a proposition.

The judicial review application was dismissed with costs.

Scott Kerwin, Partner
Aboriginal Law
BLG, Vancouver


Scott Kerwin


Aboriginal Law