Arbitrator Finds Canada Post Guilty of Discriminating against Disabled Employees

"I want to focus first on the area of accommodating disabilities, because the burdensome consequences of these laws and policies are being borne on the shop floor in companies like ours" -MOYA GREENE, October 28, 2008

The marginalization of disabled employees at Canada Post takes many forms. One of the ways that disabled employees have been marginalized is by their exclusion from Canada Post’s covert attendance reward programs, which are designed to reward employees who are capable of achieving perfect attendance.

Employees who are subject to graduated return to work plans, modified duties, or restricted hours as a result of illness or injury are automatically disqualified from the reward program.

One such program, the Bravo Perfect Attendance Program, was detected at the Vancouver Mail Processing Plant in September 2008. Under the provisions of that program, employees who achieved six months of perfect attendance were rewarded with “Bravo” certificates and $25.00 White Spot gift certificates. Employees who were unable to achieve six months of perfect attendance because of non-culpable absences resulting from illness or injury were deemed ineligible for those rewards.

On September 4, 2008, the Union filed a grievance to the effect that Canada Post’s Bravo Perfect Attendance Program discriminates against employees who are unable to achieve six months of perfect attendance as a result of their physical limitations.

In response to the grievance, Canada Post maintained that it had the right to reward ablebodied employees in such a manner. As a result, the Union referred the grievance to arbitration.

Cindy Lee, on behalf of the Union, argued that Canada Post was in violation of Article 5.01 of the Collective Agreement and the Canadian Human Rights Act:

For all the purposes of the Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been issued.

Canada Post argued that the Bravo Attendance Program is not discriminatory because the program is “voluntary”. Canada Post further argued that “the program is not disciplinary; no employees were interviewed, disciplined, or discharged for not attaining perfect attendance”.

On November 24, 2009, Arbitrator Judi Korbin ruled in favour of the Union. In her award, Arbitrator Korbin found that Canada Post had discriminated against employees who, due to no fault of their own, were unable to achieve six months of perfect attendance:

Therefore, this grievance is sustained to the extent that the Bravo Perfect Attendance Program at the Vancouver Mail Processing Plant discriminates against disabled employees.

It is not yet known whether Canada Post will continue to violate the Canadian Human Rights Act by ignoring the unequivocal message contained in this ruling.

In solidarity,

Ken Mooney
Regional Grievance Officer