The AJC supports class-action brought by Black federal public servants

Friday, December 4, 2020

As reported in the media, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the Government of Canada in Ontario and Quebec on October 30th 2020 on behalf of Black federal public servants. On December 2, 2020, a similar class-action suit was filed with the Federal Court.  The action seeks a mandatory order to establish a plan and goals related to the hiring and promotion of Black employees in the Public Service of Canada as well as damages for systemic discrimination.

The AJC recognizes that systemic anti-Black racism is real and that for too long this has not been acknowledged or confronted. Successive governments, over several decades, have failed at implementing recommendations, including those set out in the 2000 Report of the Task Force on the Participation of Visible Minorities in the Public Service.

For years now, departments have been responsible for establishing departmental rules on staffing, advertising and selection. The current system is not working and inequities persist.  Changes to the current framework for staffing and complaints are needed to ensure access to justice for all Public Service employees, and notably Black employees.

The Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) which governs staffing and promotions is ineffective.  Staffing does not fall within the collective bargaining framework.  We believe that serious thought should be given to repealing the PSEA altogether and empowering the parties to negotiate effective solutions and remedies, to address the many systemic inequities in staffing, such as the determination of selection criteria, promotions, and use of the "best fit" concept.

The AJC supports the class-action lawsuit.  Our ongoing attempts to question and challenge staffing processes and non-inclusive talent management programs have been ineffective. 

David McNairn, President and Spokesperson for the AJC, shared that "the current system is designed to hold bargaining agents at bay and we hope this action will force the government to take off its blinders and engage in meaningful dialogue that will result in effective change for all Black public service employees, including Black counsel."     

The AJC has and continues to be committed to assisting and supporting members who have experienced racism, and we are actively exploring additional measures we can take to address this important access to justice issue.


The Association of Justice Counsel is the exclusive bargaining agent for approximately 2,600 lawyers employed by the Government of Canada, who work for the Department of Justice, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, and provide in-house legal services to various federal agencies, tribunals and courts across the country.