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Remedies in a Unionized Workplace

In addition to being able to access remedies under other laws, such as human rights laws or occupational health and safety laws, workers in unionized workplaces have other options for dealing with workplace sexual harassment. This is an overview of those options.

When a Grievance is made under a Collective Agreement

If an employer accepts a grievance there are a number of steps the employer can take including:

  • Providing training and education about sexual harassment to the workplace as a whole.
  • Requiring the harasser to apologize.
  • Requiring the harasser to commit to stopping the behaviour.
  • Moving the harasser to a different place in the office or otherwise ensuring that the worker does not need to interact with the harasser.
  • Disciplining or terminating the harasser.
  • Providing monetary compensation to the employee that has been harassed.

When Grievances go to Arbitration

If a grievance is not resolved through the process in the collective agreement the union can decide to take the matter to arbitration. Arbitrators try to put the parties in the same position they would have been in if the collective agreement was not breached. They can also impose a penalty based on breach of law such as human rights laws.

If the arbitration is successful, decisions may include…

  • a declaration that the collective agreement was breached
  • a directive to comply with the terms of the collective agreement
  • a cease and desist order (directing a particular action to stop)
  • a reversal of a disciplinary action or the imposition of a less harsh disciplinary action
  • reinstatement
  • back pay
  • any remedy provided by another law, such as human rights laws, if the Arbitrator finds that law has been breached

Collective agreements can have time limits on how long after an incident a grievance can be filed. Although Arbitrators can deal with a grievance even if the time limit has passed you should check for time limits in your Collective Agreement if you are considering a grievance.

When a Union does not Fairly Represent a Worker

Unions have to fairly represent workers who bring a complaint to them concerning the collective agreement. If they do not the worker can take the case to the Labour Relations Board. If the Labour Relations Board finds that a union has failed to fairly represent a worker dealing with a possible breach of a collective agreement they can:

  • Order the union to use the grievance procedure set out in the collective agreement to deal with the employee's issue.
  • Make an order declaring the union failed to represent the worker fairly and specifying the ways in which the union failed in its duty.
  • Order the union to pay money to the worker to compensate for economic damage they suffered because the union failed in its duty.
  • Order that the union pay some of the costs the worker incurred in taking the case to the Labour Relations Board.

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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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