Is the NBA lockout illegal in Canada? Maybe…

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I have a better chance of explaining string theory to you than I do the intricacies of Canadian labor law.

But TrueHoop today pointed us toward a fascinating post from a Canadian law blog talking about the NBA lockout.

It is possible the NBA lockout — while certainly legal here in the United States — may be illegal in Ontario, the province of Canada where the Toronto Raptors play (often poorly, but they play). Which could get interesting.

Consider this case from 1995 involving the lockout of NBA referees–the NBA loves the lockout! This was before the Raptors’ had a franchise, but the NBA played regular exhibition games in Toronto. The Ontario Labour Relations Board ruled that the NBA had not complied with Ontario laws governing when a lockout is lawful. Since the NBA was employing workers in Ontario during the exhibition games, it was not entitled to lockout them out without first complying with Ontario laws. Therefore, the lockout of referees, although legal in America, was illegal in Ontario. A similar ruling was made in regards to the lockout of major league umpires also in 1995–the lockout was legal in the U.S., but umpires could not be locked out for Blue Jay home games.

There are several steps that need to be satisfied for a lockout to be legal in Canada and the blog believes that most of them have not been satisfied.

So what if the lockout is illegal, you ask? Well, if the players union or Raptors players wanted to be a pebble in the shoe of the league there is a remedy.

In theory, once the Raptors’ lose a pay cheque due to an unlawful lockout, they could seek a remedy from the OLRB, were the Board to rule that the Raptors cannot be locked out.

Not likely to happen, wouldn’t really matter if it did. But interesting.