1. Understand what your union can do

Can my union refuse to accommodate me in another position because someone has more seniority than me?
This question has an answer and 4 steps

1. Understand what your union can do

If you have a union at work and if you think your employer is discriminating against you, talk to your union about the discrimination. Tell them why you think you are being discriminated against and how you would like to be accommodated.

Your union and your employer are both responsible for accommodation.

Your union must usually try to get the employer to accommodate you so you can either do your job or a similar job. The accommodation must be appropriate, but the union doesn’t have to ask the employer for the exact accommodation that you want.

Accommodation is appropriate if:

  • it gives you an equal chance to enjoy the same level of benefits and privileges as others, and
  • It meets your individual needs.

The union also owes you a "duty of fair representation." This means that when your union is helping you with your negotiations about accommodation or your grievances, your union can’t discriminate, act arbitrarily, or act in bad faith.

Your union must:

  • listen to you and talk to you the problem you’re having
  • think about what you want
  • make an honest and fair decision about what to do, and tell you how they made that decision 

The union has the right to decide what steps they will take when you have a problem with your employer. And, unless the collective agreement says it is your decision, the union can also decide:

  • how far they will go with the complaint process
  • what they will agree to with the employer

Sometimes a union chooses not to make a human rights complaint through the grievance process. If your union decides not to file a grievance because they don’t think you have a strong case, this is not discrimination. In this situation you may still file a human rights complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, but your union will not represent you in this.

But, if your union acted unfairly or did not help you because of a personal characteristic you have that is listed in the Human Rights Code, then it’s possible your union did not meet their duty to fairly represent you. This might be discrimination.  

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Reviewed: June 11, 2018

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