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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 Burkett has practiced exclusively in the area of management labour relations and employment law since 1978.
His law practice on behalf of employers and employer associations has focused on strategic advice, advocacy and good counsel in connection with a wide range of workplace issues at the provincial, federal and increasingly so over the last decade at the international levels.

Brian’s law practice includes: strategic labour and employment law advice for clients; strategic input on the development of labour and employment law policy at the provincial, federal and international levels; appearances before grievance arbitration and labour relations boards at the provincial and federal levels; and negotiation of collective agreements on behalf of a variety of employers in the telecommunications, transportation, energy, retail, automobile manufacturing and health care sectors.

Brian has held the top ranking of Band 1 in the Chambers Global Rankings for a number of consecutive years, including 2017, and is similarly recognized in Chambers Canada (Band 1 - 2017). In 2020, Brian was recognized as a Senior Statesperson in the Chambers Nationwide and Ontario rankings for Employment and Labour Law. He is also recognized as a leading practitioner in The International Who’s Who of Management Labour & Employment Lawyers, the Annual Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada, the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory, and The Best Lawyers in Canada.

Brian is a Fellow of The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers in the United States. He is AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest peer review rating awarded to a lawyer for his legal skills and sense of ethics.  He is also recognized as an Acritas Star™ Lawyer 2016.

Brian is a Director of and counsel to the Canadian Employers Council (CEC), the official “voice” of Canadian business, on the international stage, in respect of the world of work including at the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland, and in connection with the Summit of the Americas Process. By June 2020, the CEC will submit a Final 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. 

Brian 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 is a member of a series of Domestic Advisory Committees (DAGs) created by the Canadian Government to assist in the negotiation and implementation of a series of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the provisional Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA), and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) intended to replace the original NAFTA.

He is co-author of the book Canadian Labour and Employment Law for the U.S. Practitioner (4th Edition, 2017), published by Bloomberg BNA Books of Washington, D.C. He is also co-editor and an author of Federal Labour Law and Practice, published by Canada Law Book (2013).

Brian is a member of the Executive Committee of the Canadian Labour Law Association (CLLA). He is an associate editor of the Canadian Labour and Employment Law Journal 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 Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources (CIRHR) at the University of Toronto, and co-teaches the Developments in International Labour and Human Resource Policy course.

Finally, Brian is co-Chair of the one of a kind in Canada International Law Conference in respect of the world of work and global workplaces. The papers, including Brian’s opening contribution entitled “Globalization in Transition: The Canadian Perspective” from the 2017 Conference entitled “Precarious Work, Uncertain Rights and the Role of Workplace Law” will be are published in an upcoming special edition of the Canadian Labour & Employment Law Journal (Vol. 21, No. 2, 2019). The 2020 Conference will feature a keynote lecture by Professor John Ruggie (Harvard; Kennedy School of Government). Professor Ruggie is the author of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP: 2011).

  • Recognized for Employment & Labour (Ontario and Canada) , Chambers Canada 2016 to 2021
  • Recognized in Labour and Employment Law in Toronto, The Best Lawyers in Canada 2006 to 2021
  • Recognized nationwide as a Leading Individual in Labour and Employment, The Legal 500 Canada 2016 to 2020
Chambers & Partners Publication name with laurels Chambers Canada Recognized for Employment & Labour (Ontario and Canada) Received Senior Statesperson Designation in Chambers Canada 2020 (Ontario and Canada) and 2021 (Ontario)
Legal 500 Publication name with laurels The Legal 500 Canada Recognized nationwide as a Leading Individual in Labour and Employment
Date Client


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

Memberships & Affiliations

  • Member, American Bar Association
  • 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)
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
Article Employment and Employee Benefits in Canada: Overview Practical Law, Thomson Reuters
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
Globalization in An Era of Strong Headwinds location location Toronto
Latest IFA and Analysis of Current Global Developments Relevant for Industrial Relations; International Organization of Employers International Labour Organization location location Amsterdam

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