Safety committee members lose claim that employer retaliated against them


Disciplinary letters issued to three members of a safety “Policy Committee” were not retaliatory under the Canada Labour Code, the Canada Industrial Relations Board has decided.

Air Canada issued letters to three members of the Policy Committee, which is required by the Canada Labour Code, alleging that they had refused to go through with a Policy Committee meeting despite being on full time paid leave from Air Canada to perform Policy Committee duties.

The employees’ union, CUPE, filed a complaint arguing that the letters were prohibited reprisals under the Canada Labour Code.

Air Canada and CUPE had entered into a Memorandum of Agreement dealing with a number of issues including releasing of cabin personnel to perform safety representative duties.   The Memorandum of Understanding lead to CUPE and Air Canada taking contradictory positions about the number of employee members on the Policy Committee.  The aborted Policy Committee meeting resulted from that dispute. 

The Canada Industrial Relations Board held that the dispute between the employees and Air Canada, and Air Canada’s disciplinary actions, therefore resulted from the Memorandum of Agreement, not from the employees’ participation in a safety process under Part II of the Canada Labour Code.  As such, there was no safety-reprisal issue under the Canada Labour Code.  The Canada Industrial Relations Board was not the forum for adjudication issues under the Memorandum of Agreement.

Paquet v Air Canada, 2013 CIRB 691 (CanLII)


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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