Lewis Gottheil, Vice-Chair

(Former) Director, Legal Department

Lewis Gottheil is recently retired from Unifor, where he was director of the Legal Department.

Gottheil became the founding member and director of the Legal Department, as well as counsel to the union, in 1990. In that role, he led a team of seven lawyers and two students located in Toronto and Montreal. He advised the leadership and staff of Unifor with respect to the broad range of legal issues that affected the union and its membership at the bargaining table, in the workplace, and in the community at large.

He appeared as litigation counsel to defend and advance the legal interests of Unifor before all employment-related tribunals and all levels of provincial and federal superior and appellate courts. He was counsel to the union in connection with several ground-breaking decisions, such as White Farm (pension surplus), Great Blue Heron (labour relations with respect to a workplace on aboriginal land), CNR (drug and alcohol testing), Budhai (judicial review of EI Board of Referees decisions), Air Canada (pension plan conversion), General Chemical and Kitchener Frame Ltd. (distribution of proceeds upon insolvency or bankruptcy) and GTAA (an arbitrator’s remedial authority to grant mental distress and punitive damages).  

Gottheil graduated from McGill University (BA, Great Distinction) in 1977, graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1980, and was called to the Bar in 1982. He was an associate and then partner in a boutique labour law firm from 1982 to 1989. He acted on behalf of several private- and public-sector trade unions with respect to a diverse range of matters. 

Gottheil continues to be a frequent speaker at professional conferences, addressing issues such as mandatory retirement, benefits for employees aged 65 or older, and prospects for judicial review in labour relations matters. He sits on the Board of Trustees of the new Auto Sector Retiree Health Care Trust.

Photo of Lewis Gottheil