Ontario arbitrator quits after ‘outrageous’ delay

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A labour arbitration case already notorious for its “outrageous” delays took another strange turn this week when the embattled arbitrator resigned from the professional association probing a complaint about her tardiness.

Arbitrator Maureen Saltman was on the hook for the mind-boggling amount of time she’d taken to rule on the wrongful dismissal case of Ajay Misra, a City of Toronto employee.

Misra’s was reinstated, but has waited in limbo to learn if he’ll get hundreds of thousands of dollars in back pay. He complained to the Ontario Labour-Management Arbitrators’ Association in February, accusing Saltman of breach of association ethics by taking more than 32 months to release a decision required within 30 days.

The OLMAA gave Saltman a week to respond. No surprise here: she asked for an extension. However, her lawyer said she ultimately had no choice but to resign since professional standards won’t allow her to discuss a case she’s still working on.

Back in January, Saltman said the case was just too complex for a quick decision, but labour lawyer Danny Kastner said that “regardless of the level of complexity, the amount of time it’s taken has really been beyond the pale.”

He called the case “outrageous,” and said there’s a lack of strong oversight mechanisms to keep arbitrators to a deadline. Their strongest motivation is just their own reputation, he said, since prospective clients are less likely to hire an arbitrator known for slow work.

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