Alberta court finds that grievance response is privileged

25 Mar

On February 26 the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta held that an employer’s response to the first step meeting in a grievance procedure was subject to settlement privilege.

Communications made in a grievance meeting are customarily treated as subject to settlement privilege, but whether the privilege extends to an employer’s formal response to the meeting is questionable. Here, the Court treated the grievance response as part of the continuum of settlement communications. It said:

If these meetings are to be open in an attempt to resolve the grievance it seems clear that the discussions and documents flowing therefrom should remain confidential. The decision letter of April 30 is part of a settlement negotiation which falls within the protected category of settlement privilege and is not producible.

The Court also discussed the implied waiver doctrine and the principled exception to settlement privilege and found neither justified a production order in the circumstances.

Thomson v University of Alberta, 2013 ABQB 128 (CanLII).

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