Lockout Legal Definition:

An employer's decision to bar unionized employees entry to the workplace until such time as they accept to work on the employer's terms and conditions or based on a lapsed collective bargaining agreement.

An employer's decision to bar unionized employees entry to the workplace until such time as they accept to work on the employer's terms and conditions or based on a lapsed collective bargaining agreement.

In Agostini v State, the New York Court of Claims adopted these words:

"an (employer's) act of locking out; refusal of an employer to furnish work to employees, used as a means of coercion."

The Alberta Labour Relations Code defines the term as follows:

"Lockout includes the closing of a place of employment by an employer, the suspension of work by an employer, or a refusal by an employer to continue to employ employees, for the purpose of compelling the employer’s employees, or to aid another employer in compelling the employees of that employer, to accept terms or conditions of employment."

In Re 316291 Alberta Ltd., the Alberta Labour Relations Board distinguished the lockout from a strike as follows:

"The strike (is where) employees refuse to attend at the workplace altogether, and the lockout, in which the employer shuts its employees out of the workplace."


Research and Further Reading:

  • Agostini v State 40 NYS 2d 598 (1943)
  • Labour Relations Code of Alberta, RSA 2000, Chapter L-1, published at canlii.com/ab/laws/sta/l-1/index.html
  • Re 316291 Alberta Ltd.  44 CLRBR 2d 1 (1998)

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