Joseph Weiler

Professor

Relevant Degree Programs

 

Great Supervisor Week Mentions

Each year graduate students are encouraged to give kudos to their supervisors through social media and our website as part of #GreatSupervisorWeek. Below are students who mentioned this supervisor since the initiative was started in 2017.

 

The thesis on analysis became complicated and issues could not be isolated but treated as a whole. He stuck with me and the thesis for an extra three years to find answers to a serious transnational problem where the law fails. He did not view it as work not worth the time or money. This was extremely fortunate for the thesis, which has a social human rights mission.  He was excellent in addressing my new findings and came to agree and support my findings fully, which required much more of his time. He also wrote references for scholarships, jobs, and reviews. That meant more work, reading, and writing--but the ultimate success of the work.

Anonymous (2017)

 

Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision (2010-2017)
A focus on the risk of harm : applying a risk-centered purposive approach to the interpretation of "personal information" under Canadian data protection laws (2015)

We now live in a world where the Internet is in its second generation, big data is king, and a “Digital Earth” has emerged alongside advancements in 3S technologies, where cyber-attacks and cybercrime are the new trend in criminal activity. The ease with which we can now find, collect, store, transfer, mine and potentially misuse large amounts of personal information is unprecedented. The pressure on data protection regulators continues to mount against this backdrop of frenetic change and increased vulnerability. Law and policy makers around the world tasked with protecting information privacy in the face of these advances are simply struggling to keep pace. One important difficulty they encounter is defining the term “personal information” under data protection laws (DPLs) in order to delineate precisely what type of information enjoys the protection of these legislative instruments. As a result, the meaning and scope of this term have emerged as a pressing issue in scholarly debates in the field of privacy and data protection law. This thesis contributes to these discussions by critically appraising the approaches taken by Canadian courts, privacy commissioners and arbitrators to interpreting the statutory definitions of “personal information” under Canadian private sector DPLs, and showing that a different approach is justified in light of rapidly evolving technologies.The second part of my thesis recommends a purposive risk of harm focused framework advanced by Canadian privacy scholar Éloïse Gratton as a desirable substitute for existing expansionist approaches to interpreting the definition of “personal information” under Canada’s private sector DPLs. I support my recommendation by discussing the ways in which the proposed risk of harm framework can overcome the shortcomings of existing approaches, and demonstrate this by applying it to previously issued decisions in which Canadian arbitrators and privacy commissioners or their delegates have applied expansionist approaches to new data types and data gathered by new technologies. In so doing, I demonstrate that the proposed framework better reflects the fundamental purpose of Canadian private sector DPLs: to protect only data that raises a risk of harm to individuals impacted by its collection, use or disclosure.

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"To the advantage of all concerned" : practical and principle-based arguments for a revised remedy regime for unfair dismissal in Australia (2012)

Among the extensive literature on the merits of unfair dismissal laws, comparatively little attention has been paid to the key issue of which remedies, and in what form, can best give effect to those laws. In order to address this gap in the literature, this thesis examines remedies for unfair dismissal through an empirical study of all unfair dismissal decisions handed down in Australia during the 2010-2011 financial year by the Australian federal employment tribunal. This thesis also contains a detailed analysis of the theoretical underpinnings of the current remedy regime for unfair dismissal in Australia – which comprises reinstatement and monetary compensation subject to a statutory cap – to assess the merits of those remedies from the perspective of principle.The results of the analysis reveal some troubling issues of both practice and principle.First, there is a significant divergence between the law as it appears on the statute books in relation to remedies for unfair dismissal (which emphasises reinstatement and making whole the loss suffered by the unfairly dismissed employee) and the law as it actually operates in practice (in which reinstatement is awarded infrequently and the quantum of compensation ordered in lieu of reinstatement is generally small).Second, this problem is particularly acute for self-represented applicants. An economic decision-making model is used to show that, in particular, it is likely that this problem causes self-represented applicants to reject settlement offers which they should rationally accept.Third, neither compensation nor reinstatement is capable of fully realising the purposes that the remedy regime is designed to achieve. In particular, the availability of the remedy of reinstatement against the will of an employer is unsupportable in principle and fails to afford employers a “fair go all round”.The thesis concludes by proposing that the remedy regime for unfair dismissal in Australia be modified to provide only the remedy of compensation, subject to a significantly larger statutory cap than that which presently applies. It is likely that similar modifications would benefit other jurisdictions around the world, such as Canada and the United Kingdom, which have similar statutory unfair dismissal laws to Australia.

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An ounce of prevention : the legal and business case for the implementation of workplace wellness programs (2012)

The health of American and Canadian citizens is plummeting. Intrinsically tied to this decline has been inflation in the costs associated with poor health, both at the macro-governmental and the micro-employer levels. To curb these spiraling costs, Canadian and American governments and employers have fallen on traditional cost-reduction and benefit roll-backs to secure their economic bottom-lines. This thesis combats that orthodoxy by proposing that the appropriate course for dealing with poor employee health is charted through an increase in spending on health programs in the workplace. Workplace wellness programs seek to modify unhealthy employee lifestyle decisions by broadening health education efforts and incentivizing healthier changes. Given the reach of the workplace, it is ideally situated as a tool for reformation of employee health habits.While workplace wellness programs have been shown to substantially increase employee productivity and corporate profitability, there remains a general reluctance on the part of employers to integrate wellness promotion into the workplace. This hesitancy arises, in part, from an educational gap about how to legally and successfully integrate employee wellness messaging. Indeed, employers lack information on a number of key fronts, which has led to concerns about such programs. These areas of incomplete knowledge include: (1) the business costs associated with deteriorating employee health; (2) the emergent statistical research indicating that workplace wellness programs can result in significant returns on investment; (3) how to reduce exposure to legal liability when addressing personal decisions of employees; and (4) what are the necessary wellness program components, and what are the best ways to implement those components successfully. It is the purpose of this thesis to educate employers on these areas and alleviate the tension arising from corporate involvement in employee decision-making so that the development of workplace wellness programs will increase. Given the current state of public health in Canada and the United States, employers must recognize and understand their ability to positively influence the health of their employees. While this thesis cannot be the only catalyst in this emerging paradigm shift, it serves as a marking point towards that goal.

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Aboriginal participation in the Vancouver/Whistler 2010 Olympic Games : consultation, reconciliation and the new relationship (2010)

This thesis investigates Aboriginal participation in the Vancouver/Whistler 2010 Winter Olympic Games to assess the manner in which Aboriginal peoples participated in the 2010 Games and the implications of this Aboriginal participation for the Olympics and Aboriginal participation in British Columbia and Canada more generally. This thesis employs two means for providing the context and developing guidelines from which to assess Aboriginal participation in the 2010 Games. The first considers Aboriginal participation in past Olympic Games, which provides historic examples to contrast against 2010 Games efforts, and describes the Olympic context in which the 2010 Games occurred. Review of past Olympic Games reveals little meaningful Aboriginal participation, but indicates the increasing importance that sustainability issues, such as Aboriginal participation, pose for the Olympic Games. The second consists of the examination of jurisprudence addressing how Aboriginal peoples are expected to participate in projects and decision making processes in light of the constitutional protection afforded to Aboriginal rights and title. This jurisprudence review reveals that legal guidelines emphasize the need for meaningful Aboriginal participation to advance the purposes of recognition and reconciliation, that these purposes require greater consultation and accommodation of Aboriginal peoples, and that currently the Crown is struggling to structure positive responses to this judicial guidance. Following these two examinations, this thesis turns its attention specifically to Aboriginal participation in the 2010 Games. The utilization of the historic Olympic and Canadian legal contexts to assess the 2010 Games reveals that the Aboriginal participation which occurred was largely successful and praiseworthy. Aboriginal participation in the 2010 Games far exceed that of previous Olympics, and marks a significant improvement on much of the efforts to pursue Aboriginal participation assessed by the judiciary. This indicates that Aboriginal participation in the 2010 Games holds significant lessons for both the Olympics, and those seeking more effective Aboriginal participation in British Columbia and Canada.

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Balancing the other 'scale' of justice : nurturing work-life balance in the legal profession (2010)

The pursuit of work-life balance (WLB) is a prominent topic in academic research and media reports, with many scholars and commentators describing the challenges faced by members of the labour market in balancing their employment duties with their personal responsibilities/desires. The crisis is very pronounced in the legal profession, with its institutional culture that places employment interests above family obligations and personal desires. Vanquishing this crisis is imperative not only because of its negative effect on lawyer health, but also because the number of women practicing law in British Columbia is declining, even though there are more females than males in Canadian law schools. This thesis determines that nurturing WLB within the legal profession requires the following: (1) Law schools must not only "teach law," but also "teach how to practice law" by initiating courses, workshops, and legal clinics that help students be more prepared for the rigours of the profession; (2) Alternative billing options to the billable hour system--which compensates lawyers and determines whether they are "partnership material" in firms--must be found because of its entrenchment of work-life conflict in the profession; (3) Legal employers must learn from the best practices of organizations that are adopting innovative initiatives and successfully promoting WLB among their workers. Furthermore, they must encourage, rather than stigmatize, the use of these strategies, including flexible work arrangements (FWAs), part-time arrangements, compressed work-weeks, flex-time (i.e., time off for the provision of family care), tele-commuting (i.e., working from home), and job sharing; (4) Lawyers must create, administer, and utilize the various workplace initiatives aimed at WLB--such as workshops, wellness initiatives, flexible work arrangements, etc.; and, (5) Professional organizations (such as bar associations and provincial law societies) must aid legal professionals in their pursuit of WLB by encouraging the use of FWAs, alternative billing options, and technological advances that promote employment flexibility. While a cultural revolution will not occur overnight, the insights in this thesis will facilitate the legal profession's cultural transformation into a pro-WLB institution that helps its members successfully fulfill the many demands--professional and personal--they face in society.

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Membership Status

Member of G+PS

Program Affiliations

Law
 

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