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Harassment Claim Outside BC Supreme Court’s Jurisdiction
May 17, 2007

A depot support clerk employed by Purolater Courier filed a complaint under the Canada Labour Code alleging that she had been harassed by two managers. When the Canada Industrial Relations Board dismissed the complaint, the employee filed a grievance under the collective agreement, however, her union refused to pursue her complaint. The employee then filed a claim in the BC Supreme Court alleging harassment in the workplace. The employer took the position that her claim fell outside the Court’s jurisdiction because it arose from a collective agreement. The employee maintained that the Court should hear her claim because she had no other avenue for her complaint.

The Court refused to hear the action, finding that a union member has no individual right of action against an employer if the dispute arises out of the collective agreement. If the complainant’s union decides not to proceed with a grievance, the Court said, the employee must abide by that decision or seek recourse against the union under the duty of fair representation provisions of the BC Labour Relations Code.

This decision is consistent with the recent Supreme Court decision on similar facts in Moznik v. Richmond (City of) et al., 2006 BCSC1848. This case reinforces the principle that that unionized employees will be required by the courts to address personal harassment claims through their collective agreement grievance and arbitration processes and not through a claim to the courts.

Belik et al. v. Purolator Courier Limited et al., 2007 BCSC 579 (Russell J.)