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Can my union refuse to accommodate me in another position because someone has more seniority than me?
Ontario's human rights laws say that everyone has the right to be treated equally and not be discriminated against at work by an employer or union.
This could mean doing things differently for you so that you're treated equally. Some people call this "removing barriers” that cause people to be treated differently because of personal differences that are listed in the Human Rights Code. The legal word for removing barriers is accommodation.
Both your employer and union have a duty to accommodate you. But, your employer and union may not have to do this if they can prove it would cost too much or it would cause serious health and safety issues. The law calls this undue hardship.
Examples of accommodation
Accommodation can be different for different people. In each case it depends on what you need. Usually the employer will first see if a change can be made to your original job.
If changes can’t be made to your original job without causing undue hardship, the employer and union will look to see if there are any other jobs in the workplace that you can do.
But accommodation does not mean that your employer and union must remove another employee from their job and give that job to you. Even if the other job is vacant, reassignment is only appropriate if you can’t be accommodated in your original job.
Your employer or union can’t refuse to accommodate you for reasons like seniority or collective agreement entitlements. But they might use seniority to decide how you can be accommodated. For example, you might ask to be moved to a different vacant job, but there is someone more senior to you who is also interested in that job. The employer and union might decide to give the job to the more senior employee and accommodate you in a different way.