CN Officers accused of Harassment and Intimidation - UTU argues at Arbitration At the December 2004 Canadian Railway Office of Arbitration and Disputes Resolution (CROA&DR) hearings, the United Transportation Union (UTU) presented a grievance on behalf of a UTU member who alleged that CN officers harassed and intimidated him in connection with a personal illness and work-related injuries, as well as putting pressure on him to disclose the nature of his personal illness.
In July 2004, the grievor filed a complaint under CN's Harassment Policy, and the Union subsequently filed a grievance in September, alleging that CN and its named officers had violated CN's Human Rights Policy, the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Privacy Act, the Canada Labour Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
CN filed a preliminary objection, saying that because the grievance didn't allege any violation of the collective agreement, the arbitrator had no jurisdiction to hear the matter. Arbitrator Michel Picher found that while arbitrators might have agreed with CN's point in the past, the Supreme Court of Canada's recent Parry Sound decision has changed all that.
In essence, the Court has said that every employment-related law should be considered as forming part of all collective agreements, and that arbitrators can rule on violations of the law even where the dispute is not directly "grounded" in an article of the collective agreement. Arbitrator Picher rejected CN's objection.
In a final twist, however, he noted that because the legislative department of the UTU was also involved in the grievor's separate harassment complaint, CN should not have to defend itself against the union simultaneously in two forums. He therefore put the arbitration in abeyance until such time as the harassment complaint is resolved or withdrawn.