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Grievance Process

The exact process for filing a grievance will vary from workplace to workplace. In very general terms, the grievance process will involve a progression of steps designed to resolve the dispute.

Workers that want to file a grievance will generally begin by talking to their local union representative, sometimes called a shop steward. The shop steward is a union member elected to represent workers and deal with management.

The shop steward's role is to investigate the matter and try to find a resolution. Their duty, however, is to the union and its members – not management.

You should explain your situation to your shop steward, as well as why you believe that your employer’s actions, including sexual harassment, are a breach of your collective agreement. Tell them about any evidence you have that supports your claims or witnesses that may be helpful. Get information about any time limits that could affect you.

When a shop steward is determining whether the complaint involves a breach of the collective agreement or taking steps to resolve the matter, they may involve an elected member higher up the chain of command, a designated committee, or even a union staff member from the regional or national office.

Your union may try to resolve the matter informally by talking to your supervisor, manager or employer. They may do this on your behalf or attend any meetings that you have requested. If the matter is not resolved at this stage – and they have determined that it is a breach of your collective agreement – they may decide to file a formal grievance.

A grievance will involve a written complaint that specifies what section of the collective agreement has been breached and the remedies being sought. As part of the process of determining whether to go ahead with a grievance, the union will investigate the issue and interview the other party and any witnesses.

It’s important to note that if the matter is grieved, the alleged harasser is entitled to know the particulars of the complaint.

The union will put their case forward and hear management’s position. The employer may then formally respond to the grievance. The employer may…

  • agree with the union’s grievance and the proposed response
  • agree with the union grievance but determine their own response to the complaint
  • reject the grievance
  • simply not respond to the grievance

If the employer’s response is not acceptable to the union, they may choose to take the grievance to arbitration.

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This site provides general information about workplace sexual harassment only. It is not a substitute for receiving legal advice about your situation. Apply now to receive 4 hours of free legal advice.

The Shift Project is funded by the Department of Justice and delivered by the Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan (PLEA).

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