January 27, 2005

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resolved or withdrawn.

CROA&DR 3465 [This award is a must read.]

Source:  Abe Rosner - Arbitrations.tk
 
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