Canadian Labour Reporter

July 5, 2021

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.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 7 of 7

received critical incident stress debriefing and some were diag- nosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The union local president was a correctional officer who respond- ed to an incident in December 2017 in which an inmate hanged himself. She had spoken to him shortly before his body was found, and she had to stand watch over the scene for five hours un- til the coroner arrived. After this incident, the deceased inmate's family protested outside the EMDC and displayed large pho- tos of the inmate's body, which upset her. On June 3, 2018, families of inmates who died while at the EMDC set up a memorial of painted wooden crosses, each bearing the name of one of the deceased and some with photo- graphs. It was at an intersection close to the EMDC on Crown land, near the road and easily vis- ible to drivers. Anyone entering or leaving the EMDC had to drive by the inter- section, so staff drove past the memorial twice every day. Those with PTSD found that the memo- rial exacerbated their symptoms and many others had to seek psy- chological help. As time passed, people add- ed features to the memorial, including a protest sign, solar panels to power lights, an en- graved plaque, a memorial lan- tern, candles, angel statuettes, stuffed animals, personal be- longings of the deceased, and a figure illuminated by a stake light with clothing associated with the deceased. In September 2018, the union local president informed the EMDC about their concerns regarding the memorial. She reminded management two months later after the family of another inmate who had died picketed the facility and dis- played post-mortem photos. In January 2019, the ministry met with family members and proposed a permanent memo- rial, but the union didn't want something in the same spot. Fur- ther protests at the EMDC en- trance took place in April, caus- ing minor damage to some staff vehicles. The union filed a grievance, claiming that the employer failed to remove the memorial, which created an unacceptable risk to the psychological health and safe- ty of EMDC staff in violation of the collective agreement and the Ontario Health and Safety Act. The memorial remained at the intersection through the rest of 2019 and 2020. The arbitrator noted that the City of London had no bylaw on roadside memorials, but he referred to other cities that did. For example, in Mississauga, Ont., memorials could not be distracting to road users and had a size limit. If London had a similar bylaw, the memorial in question would violate both rules, the arbitrator said, adding that various jurisdictions had time limits for such memorials ranging from six months to one year. The arbitrator found that the memorial outside the EMDC had been in place continuously for nearly three years and had "a deleterious effect on the mental health of the staff of the EMDC." There was no reasonable remedy other than to remove the installa- tion from its current location, the arbitrator concluded. The arbitrator determined that the ministry did not take ev- ery precaution reasonably nec- essary to protect the health and safety of employees. The min- istry was ordered to remove the memorial and advise the families of the deceased inmates. In addi- tion, if the memorial was re-in- stalled on Crown property near the EMDC without the union's agreement, the employer was to remove it. Reference: OPSEU and Ontario (Ministry of the Solicitor General). Christopher Albertyn — arbitrator. Peter Dailleboust for employer. Christopher Bryden for employee. May 3, 2021. 2021 CarswellOnt 6697 up the customer and the junior employee asked her to call emer- gency services. Levesque refused, saying she had already dealt with the police that evening and she didn't want to stay after hours. The junior employee called 911 and when the dispatcher instructed them to check if the customer was breathing, Levesque became upset and returned to counting cash af- ter checking. The library issued Levesque a written warning for failing to un- dertake the duties of a customer service lead or ensuring the safety of the library and its occupants, and for leaving a junior employee "leaderless." On Oct. 1, the library suspend- ed Levesque for one day after she failed to investigate and report that the public computer system was compromised shortly before closing. She didn't show any con- cern for the seriousness of the sit- uation at a meeting, and she was warned that "further infractions of this nature will result in disci- pline, up to and including termi- nation." In November, multiple em- ployees complained about Levesque failing to help out, not answering the phone, and acting rude. Management scheduled a meeting to discuss the com- plaints and advised her of the importance of honesty. However, Levesque was caught off-guard and denied any problems with her work performance — although she eventually acknowledged that she sometimes refused to assist coworkers. Management felt that Levesque deserved a suspension or demo- tion, but after she was dishonest in the interview, they terminated her employment. Levesque later said she felt "shocked, overwhelmed, and in a state of disbelief." The union filed a grievance for unjust discharge. The arbitrator found that the evidence indicated that Levesque was culpable for poor work perfor- mance as described by the com- plaints and she was "a very poor supervisor who did little work, avoided tasks she did not like, was not helpful or approachable, and manipulated her position of au- thority for her own purposes." The coaching letter, letter of expecta- tion, and suspension she had re- ceived previously showed that the library had warned her about such misconduct. However, the library indicated that Levesque's work performance wasn't the reason for termination, but rather it was her dishonesty at the meeting. Although Levesque denied the allegations, she wasn't told about the complaints before- hand and didn't have an opportu- nity to address them. She was tak- en by surprise at the meeting and it would be reasonable to assume she didn't realize her job was in jeop- ardy — which was not an excuse for her false denial but it provided some context for her reaction as she was "probably not doing much more than she had done for some time," said the arbitrator. The arbitrator considered Levesque's lengthy service with only a letter of reprimand and a one-day suspension on her record and determined that termination was excessive. The library was or- dered to reinstate Levesque with a two-week suspension in place of the discharge, along with a dis- ciplinary demotion from the cus- tomer lead position. Reference: Coquitlam Public Library and Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 561. Christopher Sullivan — arbitrator. James Kondopulos and Brandon Hillis for employer. Sara Hanson and Afifa Hashimi for employee. June 8, 2021. Employee didn't own up but caught unawares: Arbitrator Allowing memorial to remain traumatized staff: Arbitrator < Raw pg. 1

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Canadian Labour Reporter - July 5, 2021