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Brian Burkett Toronto Lawyer

Brian W. Burkett *

Counsel Fasken
The twin forces of globalization and technological innovation have revolutionized our world ▬ permanently, relentlessly and at an ever-quickening pace ▬ including the world of work. Finding a balance between economic development and social progress, within the new world, is one of the great challenges of our times.
Jurisdiction Ontario, 1978
Language(s) English
Office(s) Toronto
*practising through a professional corporation


Brian is a management-side labour and employment lawyer in Fasken’s Toronto office.

Fasken is proud to be a Partner Company in the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) in Geneva, Switzerland. The Fasken Labour and Employment Practice Group (comprised of over 120 lawyers globally) is ranked Band 1 and the Employment Law Firm of the Year in the Chambers Canada Rankings for 2021-2022.

Brian has also held the top ranking of Band 1 in the Chambers Canada Rankings for a number of consecutive years. In 2021-2022, Brian has been recognized as a Senior Statesperson in the Chambers Nationwide and Ontario Rankings, and the recipient of the Chambers Canada Lifetime Achievement Award celebrating his career and contributions to the legal profession and to the practice of law across Canada. He is also a co-recipient of the 2021 Canadian Freedom of Association Award presented by the Canadian Industrial Relations Association (CIRA).

Brian is counsel to and a Board member of the Canadian Employers Council (CEC). The CEC is the official "voice" of Canadian business, on the international stage, including at the ILO, in respect of the world of work. In January 2021, the CEC submitted a Report to the Canadian government setting out the views and perspective of the Canadian business community on a wide variety of unfolding international and domestic developments impacting the world of work and global workplaces. 

Through the CEC, Brian is a member of the Global Coordinating Group (GCG) of Alliance 8.7. Alliance 8.7 is an international initiative aimed at advancing Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 8 – the elimination of child labour, forced labour and human trafficking in the global supply chain.

He is also counsel to the Federally Regulated Employers - Transportation and Communications (FETCO). FETCO is the principal organization representing the interests of federally-regulated employers, including its interactions with the Canadian Government.

Brian was a member of the Labour Consultation Group, appointed by the Canadian Government, in respect of the social/labour provisions of the recently enacted Canada-US-Mexico trade deal (CUSMA). He is also a member of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement: Domestic Advisory Group (CETA:DAG) (Labour and Sustainable Development chapters) under the provisions of the provisional trade deal between Canada and the 27-member EU.

Brian participates in the affairs of the International Labour and Employment Relations Association (ILERA). In 2018, he presented a paper on "Globalization: Reverse or Reform?" at the ILERA World Congress held in Seoul, South Korea, and in 2020, he spoke on the topic of “Globalization and Labour Law” at the ILERA Regional: Americas conference.

Brian is co-author of the book Canadian Labour and Employment Law for the U.S. Practitioner (4th Edition) published by Bloomberg BNA Books, Washington, D.C. He is also co-editor and an author of Federal Labour Law and Practice, published by Canada Law Book.

Brian is an associate editor of the Canadian Labour and Employment Law Journal (CLELJ) and a member of the International Association of Labour Law Journals.

Brian sits on the Advisory Board of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources (CIRHR) at the University of Toronto and the Centre for Law in the Contemporary Workplace at the Faculty of Law, Queen’s University.

He is an Adjunct Professor at the CIRHR where he co-teaches the course on "International Developments in Labour and Human Resource Policy".

Over the last few years, Brian has been actively involved in the rapidly evolving ESG (Environmental/Social/Governance) field with special attention on the "S" (Social) in ESG and ESG Investing, otherwise known as Business and Human Rights (BHR).

In this regard, in 2021, Brian lectured: (i) in the Osgoode Hall Law School “Certificate in ESG, Climate Risk and the Law” program, and (ii) the Western Law course on “International Developments in Human Rights” from the perspective of the human rights footprint of corporations.

He is co-author of the chapter "The Regulation of Multinational Labour and Employment Practices Through a Galaxy of Norms" in the recently released book, Corporate Social Responsibility – Sustainable Business: Environmental, Social and Governance Frameworks for the 21st Century, published in 2020 by Kluwer Law International in partnership with the International Bar Association. 

Brian is a member of the ABA Advisory Board to the Centre for Human Rights section at the ABA. This body of work focuses on the development of the BHR field within the global economic system, including the construction of a comprehensive repository of BHR materials.

Brian participates in the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights (BHR) held each year in Geneva, Switzerland. The 10th annual Forum on BHR took place virtually November 29-December 1, 2021.

Since 2003, Brian has been co-Chair of the one-of-a-kind international labour conference in Canada. The biannual event takes place on the campus of Western Law at Western University. The next conference is tentatively scheduled for the Fall of 2022 with an emphasis on the full range of developments and initiatives aimed at repairing the social deficit embedded in economic globalization with a focus on the subset of BHR activities.

Finally, Brian is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers in the United States. He is also AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest peer review rating awarded to a lawyer/attorney for his legal skills and sense of ethics.


Client Work

Date Client

Career & Education


  • LLB Osgoode Hall Law School at York University
  • BA University of Toronto

Memberships & Affiliations

  • Member, American Bar Association (Member of the ADA Advisory Committee to the ABA: Centre for Human Rights) 
  • Member, Canadian Bar Association
  • Member, Canadian Chamber of Commerce
  • Co-Director, Canadian Labour Law Association (CLLA)
  • Director and Counsel, Canadian Employers Council
  • Member, International Association of Labour Law Journals
  • Member, International Organization for Standardization (IS)
  • Member, International Society for Labour and Social Security Law
  • Member, Inter-University Research Centre on Globalization and Work (CRIMT)
  • Member, The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
  • Member, The Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario)


Fasken Institute



Book The Regulation of Multinational Labour and Employment Practices Through a Galaxy of Norms, “Corporate Social Responsibility – Sustainable Business: Environmental, Social and Governance Frameworks for the 21st Century” Kluwer Law International in partnership with the International Bar Association
Article Defining labour rights in a globalised world: a Canadian perspective Practical Law, Thomson Reuters
Article Employment and Employee Benefits in Canada: Overview Practical Law, Thomson Reuters

Speaking Engagements

Speaker Globalization: Reverse or Reform? ILERA 2020 Conference location location Toronto
Speaker Globalization: Reverse or Reform? ILERA World Congress location location Seoul, South Korea
Trade and Tribulations - Uncertain Times Ahead for Partners of Trade Agreements - Why and What to Expect? Canada Industrial Relations Board and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service National Conference location location Ottawa

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