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 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 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 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, 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. In January 2021, the CEC submitted 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.
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.
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 "International Developments in Labour and Human Resource Policy" course.
Over the last few years, Brian has been actively involved in the ESG (Environmental/Social/Governance) field with special attention on the "S" (Social) in ESG and ESG Investing. 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. This body of work focuses on the development of the BHR field within the global economic system.
Brian participates in the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights (BHR) held each year in Geneva, Switzerland. The 9th annual Forum on BHR took place virtually November 16-18, 2020.
Since 2003, Brian has been 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 next conference is tentatively scheduled for the Spring of 2022 with an emphasis on the repercussions, on the world of work and global workplaces, as a consequence of COVID-19.