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Queen's University
 

Canada Safeway (2008)

Canada Safeway Ltd. v. United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 401 (Pady Shenher Grievance), [2008] A.G.A.A. No. 38

Facts

On Christmas Eve, 2005, two Canada Safeway employees in Alberta got into a heated argument. When the female employee stepped towards the male employee, he reached out, grabbed the brim of her ball cap and pushed her back. The female employee was very upset and reported the incident immediately. The employer investigated the incident and, at the beginning of March, gave the male employee a written warning.  When the female employee learned the outcome of the investigation, she filed a grievance. In it, she argued that the employer should have removed  the male employee from the workplace and that a warning was insufficient punishment.

Issues

  1. "Did the fact that Safeway didn't remove Mr. Fairweather out of the store constitute a failure to ensure a safe workplace for Ms. Pady Shenher a) during the investigation ? b) subsequent to the completion of the investigation and the decision to discipline Mr. Fairweather?" (45)  
  2. Was the discipline sufficient in this case?

Decisions

  1. Yes and No
  2. Yes

Reasons

  1. a) "Given the nature of the allegations, and Safeway's initial perception of those allegations, in order to ensure Ms. Pady Shenher was not working in an unsafe workplace Mr. Fairweather ought to have either been moved to another store or suspended with pay, while Safeway conducted its investigation to ascertain whether Ms. Pady Shenher was in fact at risk or not." b) The arbitrator ruled that what Pady Shenher was calling "mental distress" caused by having to work in proximity to a health and safety risk (Mr. Fairweather)  was actually only common stress due to an ongoing personality conflict. He determined that Mr. Fairweather did not have to be removed from the workplace in order to ensure Pady Shenher's safety. He did recommend that the employer flag the employees' files and do its best to keep them apart, for the sake of harmony, but refused to order this separation.  
  2. The arbitrator agreed with Safeway that this incident was on the very low end of the scale for workplace violence and that a written warning was sufficient .

 

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000