Ian is a trade union lawyer who has devoted his career to advocating on behalf of trade unions and working people. Ian is a partner at Ursel Phillips Fellows and Hopkinson LLP, the firm where he has practiced law since commencing his articles with the firm in 1992. He attended the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto and obtained his Bachelor of Laws in 1992.
Ian’s practice involves acting on behalf of unions and employees in all areas of labour and administrative law, with an emphasis in the transit and construction sectors. Ian has also acted for workers in the education and health care sectors. He frequently litigates policy matters of significant importance to transit workers and the labour community as a whole. He provides practical advice to his clients with a view to advancing the rights of Canadian workers.
As a trade union advocate Ian regularly appears on behalf of clients before tribunals and courts such as Boards of Arbitration, the Grievance Settlement Board, the Ontario Labour Relations Board, The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, and the law courts.
Ian has litigated a broad range of rights arbitrations including both individual grievances and wide ranging policy matters.
Ian has successfully obtained reinstatement of numerous individuals who have been dismissed without just cause.
Most recently he obtained reinstatement of a worker who had been terminated by a large institutional employer after she reported that she had been sexually assaulted by a supervisor. This case required careful deconstruction of rape myths relied upon by the employer to blame the victim support the termination. In another case, Ian obtained one of the first judgements finding an employer liable pursuant to a collective agreement for personal, as opposed to Human Rights Code, harassment. This marked a significant departure from existing law which suggested such claims could not be advanced pursuant to collective agreement provisions.
Ian began his legal career as a summer law student employed at the Ontario Information and Privacy Commission. His interest in balancing freedom of information and privacy rights has found its way into his trade union practice. Ian has successfully litigated or settled cases such as union access to employee contact information (Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation District 25 v Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, 2001 CanLii 11073 (ON LRB)), employer misuse of social media to the detriment of employees (Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113 v Toronto Transit Commission (Use of Social Media Grievance),  O.L.A.A. No. 267), has negotiated substantial damages for disclosure of confidential employee information and in one of the only cases of its kind in the Province of Ontario successfully challenging the termination of a security clearance at a nuclear generating plant, (Canadian Union of Skilled Workers v Bruce Power, 2018 CanLii 13995 (ON LRB)).
Ian has successfully challenged employer initiatives to contract out work, obtained significant wage increases for thousands of workers in job evaluation and policy grievances, defended trade unions in labour injunction proceedings and conducted judicial review applications.
Ian advises clients on collective bargaining having been lead counsel in numerous rounds of collective bargaining at workplaces such as the Toronto Transit Commission and Metrolinx. Where bargained solutions cannot be reached he has effectively represented his clients at interest arbitration. In Re: Toronto Transit Commission (Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113 v Toronto Transit Commission, 2018 CanLII 99135 (ON LA)), he successfully resisted employer attempts to roll back longstanding contracting out protections. In 2019 and 2020 he conducted an interest arbitration which set balance of the terms and conditions of employment for a new employee group.
Ian is a long time member of the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers. Ian is regularly invited by trade unions and legal education organizations to speak on significant and important matters of labour law. His frequent speaking invitations have included organizations as the Law Society of Ontario, the Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers, Lancaster House and other organizations.