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Duty to Accommodate Union Activities
June 30, 2008

The British Columbia Supreme Court recently upheld an arbitration award that applied a “duty to accommodate” standard to a collective agreement clause prohibiting discrimination on the basis of union activity. The employer offered employees forty hours of paid time to prepare for tests to qualify as an apprentice. Because he was working at the union office on union business for three months, the grievor did not learn of the offer and the test deadline until eight days before the final test date. The employer argued that the union activity clause was intended to prohibit direct discrimination, not to create a “duty to accommodate” standard for union activity. However, the Court found that the arbitrator’s decision was a reasonable interpretation of the clause and upheld the award.

Telus Communications Inc. v. Telecommunications Workers Union, 2008 BCSC 658