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Richard J. Charney

Global Head of Employment and Labour

Richard J. Charney


T:+1 416.216.1867

Richard Charney is global head of our employment and labour practice. 

Mr. Charney practises management labour relations and employment law, a field in which he is widely recognized as an advocate on behalf of national and local clients. He acts for numerous employers and employers’ organizations and appears at provincial and federal labour relations boards and the courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada, and before rights and interest labour arbitration tribunals. He also advises on all matters of employment and labour law and legislative reform.

Mr. Charney’s practice also involves collective bargaining on behalf of employers, employment standards, human rights, wrongful dismissal, workplace health and safety and constitutional law. 

He is particularly active as an advocate before national labour tribunals such as the Canada Industrial Relations Board, which has jurisdiction over transportation and similar national industries; the Ontario Labour Relations Board, which has jurisdiction in provincial industries such as construction; and in judicial review challenges to tribunal determinations in the federal and provincial superior courts. 

He is also a leading labour counsel to a variety of well-known arts and cultural organizations in Canada.

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  • Education

    LL.M., University of Cambridge, 1982
    LL.B., Western University, 1980

  • Representative experience

    Mr. Charney has successfully acted for the following clients:

    • A provincial electric power utility at arbitration, establishing the right of an employer to terminate the employment of a unionized employee who underperforms
    • A provincial power utility against a union injunction that sought to restrain the promotion of certain unionized employees into management prior to a labour dispute
    • A provincial power utility against an unfair labour practice accusation at the Ontario Labour Relations Board with respect to conduct before and during strike activity
    • A major pulp and paper producer in a judicial review challenge to an arbitration decision that concluded the employer discriminated when it provided different benefits to employees on long-term disability than to employees under workers’ compensation coverage. The Ontario Divisional Court quashed the arbitrator’s ruling
    • A variety of employers at the Ontario Labour Relations Board concerning jurisdictional assignments on construction sites
    • An Ontario-based broadcaster at arbitration with respect to a union challenge to a management decision to the effect that an employee with seniority was unqualified for a particular position
    • A media outlet against a union attempt to convince the Ontario Labour Relations Board to consolidate city-based bargaining units into a province-wide unit
    • A construction association in which an interest arbitrator substantially adopted the proposal put forward by the employer and rejected the union position
    • A major Canadian arts organization in arbitration against a union challenge that would have required additional payments to stage employees had the grievance succeeded
    • Employers in the financial services and transportation industries at the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal against numerous employee- and union-initiated judicial review applications challenging the decisions of administrative commissions and boards that were favourable to management

  • Admissions
    • Ontario 1983
  • Rankings and recognitions
    • Chambers Canada, 2016-2017: Employment and Labour (Band 1)
    • Chambers Canada (2016-2017): Employment and Labour: Ontario (Band 1)
    • Chambers Global: Canada, 2013-2017: Employment & Labour
    • Best Lawyers in Canada, 2006-2016: Labour and Employment Law
    • Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory, 2012-2016: recommended in Employment Law – Employer; Labour Relations – Management; Labour Relations - Construction Sector Management
    • Who’s Who Legal, Canada 2014-2015: Labour & Employment
    • Fellow, The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
    • The International Who’s Who of Management Labour and Employment Lawyers, 2011-2013
    • PLC Which Lawyer? Cross-border Labour and Employee Benefits Handbook
    • Canadian HR Reporter’s Canada’s Employment Lawyers Directory, 2009
    • Walter Owen Book Prize, 1999
    • Martindale-Hubbell – “AV” rating
    • Guide to the World’s Leading Labour and Employment Lawyers
    • Canadian Who’s Who
    • PLC’s Which Lawyer? Yearbook
  • Speaking engagements
    • “The Right to Strike and Other Musings from the Supremes,” Norton Rose Fulbright Employment and Labour Law Conference, May 27, 2015, Brampton, ON.
    • Insight 7th Biennial Construction Labour Relations Conference (co-chair), April 29 and 30, 2015, Toronto, ON.
    • “Alcohol and Drug Testing in the Construction Industry,” Insight 7th Biennial Construction Labour Relations Conference, April 29, 2015, Toronto, ON.
    • “Construction Labour Relations Issues: Some Insights,” Canada Labour and Employee Relations Network, October 1, 2014, Toronto, ON.
    • “Abolishing Mandatory Retirement: Managing the Workplace,” Human Resources Professionals Association, October 1, 2014, Barrie, ON.
    • “New Frontiers in Organizing,” National Academy of Arbitrators 2014 Annual Meeting, May 22, 2014, Chicago, IL.
    • “Family Status Accommodation,” Norton Rose Fulbright Employment Law Conference, May 13, 2014, Brampton, ON.
    • “Accommodation Obligations in the Context of Long Term Disability,” Insight Information Conference on Disability Management in the Workplace, January 29, 2014, Toronto, ON.
    • “Legal Update,” Council of Industrial Relations Executives, October 24, 2013, Toronto, ON.
    • “Recent Developments in Construction Labour Law and Labour Relations: Canada,” Mechanical Contractors Association Ontario Annual Conference, May 25, 2013, Paris, France.
  • Memberships and activities


    • Not-for-Profit Organization in Toronto
      • Chair, Board Committee, 2006 to present
      • Member, Board Finance Committee, 2006-2010
      • Board of Trustees,  2003-2006
    • Ontario Labour Relations Board
      • Construction Litigation Committee, 1995-2005
    • Association of Canadian Orchestras, 1995-1997
    • Adjunct Professor, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, 2006 to present
    • Faculty Member, Osgoode Hall Law School Graduate Program (Instructor in Collective Bargaining), 2001-2002