Canadian Labour Reporter

June 8, 2020

Canadian Labour Reporter is the trusted source of information for labour relations professionals. Published weekly, it features news, details on collective agreements and arbitration summaries to help you stay on top of the changing landscape.

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LABOUR FORCE NUMBERS Five-year gap since kiln job last performed by engineer B.C. union executive suspended for treatment of HR advisor that employee to be humiliated or intimidated." On July 31, 2017, Shard came to the human resources office up- set, saying in a raised voice that the HR advisor had disrespected her. Shard — who was on the union executive — said angrily that the HR advisor wasn't giving her enough time to represent her union members at meetings and was tarnishing her reputation. The office door was open, and Shard's raised voice drew another employee over who didn't feel comfortable hearing the con- versation. Shard responded by walking away and stating loudly that there would be "many more grievances," which was overheard by others. The advisor filed a complaint under the RWP, saying it was "a direct attack on my personal in- tegrity and character." She added that Shard had made other ac- cusations — including in mul- tiple emails — outside the proper grievance channels, which made her feel bullied. An independent investigator reviewed the complaint and sug- gested she broaden the investiga- tion to include the overall rela- tionship between Shard and the HR advisor, but the district and the union both rejected the idea. The union later claimed the RWP didn't apply to Shard be- cause she was a member of the union executive and Shard would only participate in the investiga- tion if a copy of the complaint with details was provided in ad- vance of any investigation meet- ing. Two weeks later, the union filed a grievance alleging that the district had failed to conduct a "timely investigation" or provide Shard with details on the com- plaint. It also claimed Shard was exempt from the RWP since the confrontation was related to la- bour relations. On Oct. 30, the district asked Shard to meet with the investiga- tor, but Shard said she wouldn't do so until she had received the particulars of the complaint. The district complied a few days later, but Shard went on medical leave and declined to participate until she was medically cleared. Shard began a gradual return to work in late December, returning full-time in early January 2018. The investigator interviewed her on Jan. 26, when she expressed regret about the accusations she had made. She acknowledged that asking the advisor to person- ally apologize in relation to griev- ances both in person and by email was inappropriate. The investigator determined that Shard had engaged in "a clear pattern of abuse" that violated the RWP. The district offered to provide the report to Shard and the union for comments before it took any action, but the union re- fused, arguing that Shard had al- ready spoken to the investigator. On March 12, the district sus- pended Shard for three days. The union filed a second grievance over the suspension. The arbitrator first found no unreasonable delay of the inves- tigation. There was discussion of a broader investigation and Shard was absent from work for a month, so the delay wasn't solely the district's fault and there was no evidence it caused prejudice against Shard, said the arbitrator. The arbitrator also found there was no reason to go beyond the findings of the investigator, who determined Shard's actions vio- lated the RWP. Though the union argued Shard was acting as a union executive, the arbitrator found her comments "were not limited to heated debate over the merits of a workplace issue" and crossed the line into personal at- tacks. The arbitrator determined that the three-day suspension was appropriate, particularly since it was "a relatively short suspen- sion." Reference: Squamish (District) and CUPE, Local 2269. Mark Brown — arbitrator. Nazeer Mitha for employer. Rodger Oakley for employee. March 4, 2020. 2020 CarswellBC 1166

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