Clare’s Case: Labour Law, Duty of Fair Representation and Ontario Labour Relations Board


Clare had been working for General Motors for 23 years before his termination. The company claimed that he had threated a supervisor after being told that a urine sample he had given was diluted. Clare denied the allegation and asked the Union, Canadian Auto Workers Local 222, to grieve the termination. He communicated frequently with the Union and provided evidence in support of his position, including the results of a polygraph test. The Union declined to pursue a grievance, stating the supervisor did not have a history of misrepresentations to the Union and Clare had prior discipline on his record. I became involved to bring a complaint to the Ontario Labour Relations Board that the Union failed to properly represent Clare’s interests.


Duty of fair representation complaints are difficult to win. It must be shown that the Union acted in a manner that was arbitrary, discriminatory or in bad faith. That is a high standard to meet. Negligence is not enough. In Clare’s case, I considered that the Union’s failure to adequately investigate his claim and properly report on the results of their investigation met this high standard. Clare asked the Board to order that the grievance relating to his termination proceed before an Arbitrator, with legal counsel of his choice paid for by the Union.


After a lengthy process before the Board, a Vice-Chair determined that the Union had failed to properly represent Clare’s interests and a grievance would proceed as he requested. I represented Clare during that proceeding as well, which concluded in a negotiated settlement.