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Background

Omer had been working for Air Canada for ten years, doing a job he loved as an airline mechanic, when the company claimed he had abandoned the job. Following an altercation  with a co-worker, Omer was off work suffering from depression. Both he and the co-worker had been suspended, but Omer considered this was unjustified and that the co-worker had received favourable treatment because of a family relation with management. The feelings of injustice and mistreatment caused Omer to miss time from work. As is not uncommon, he found it difficult to revisit the issues and communicate with the company concerning his absence. However, the company was aware of his condition, but nonetheless deemed Omer to have abandoned his job as a result of the failure to adequately communicate with the company. The Union brought a grievance on Omer’s behalf, but after lengthy delays he felt more comfortable having independent counsel represent him on the matter. I became involved at that point.

Approach

The first order of business was to request and obtain the company’s complete file, and in particular communications relating to the decision to deem Omer to have abandoned the job. After doing so, a detailed Arbitration Brief was prepared setting out the facts of the case and Omer’s position. This would allow the Arbitrator to come to the Arbitration well prepared, and better able to focus the hearing more efficiently. It was clear to me from the documentation that the decision to terminate Omer’s employment was inappropriate, and the company had failed to adequately accommodate his condition. These responsibilities, which form part of human rights statutes and collective agreements, represent important safeguards for employees suffering from disabilities. The company saw matters differently and argued that they had acted properly.

Result

With the assistance of the highly skilled Arbitrator and before the commencement of the hearing, a settlement of the Arbitration was arrived at which was satisfactory to all parties.

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