FAQs: Human rights in membership in trade unions, employers' organizations or occupational associations


  1. Can I lose my job or union membership if I make a complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission?

    Section 10 of the Alberta Human Rights Act prohibits retaliation based on a human rights complaint. Your union or employer cannot retaliate against you for making or attempting to make a human rights complaint, or for giving evidence about a complaint.

  2. Can the union bypass seniority rights in order to accommodate issues such as disability or religious beliefs?

    There can be circumstances where seniority rights will be bypassed to accommodate a member. Each case will be considered given the particular circumstances, how much the accommodation violates the collective agreement, what other alternatives are available and whether the accommodation would result in undue hardship to the union and its members.

  3. Where can I get information on the human rights issues related to drug and alcohol dependencies in the workplace?

    See the Commission information sheet Drug and alcohol dependencies in Alberta workplaces.

  4. My collective agreement has a very strict absenteeism rule. If someone is away for more than 20 days in a year, their employment is terminated. I'm going to have knee surgery and be off for more than three months. Can my employer fire me?

    Employers and unions have a duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship. If your employer can manage your absence without undue hardship then it is obligated to do so regardless of the language in the collective agreement. If the policy is enforced without an individual assessment of the circumstances you may have grounds to make a human rights complaint against your employer and/or union. For more information see the Commission human rights guide Duty to accommodate.

  5. I am a female employee who works in a camp. One of my co-workers is sexually harassing me. My employer refuses to do anything. I talked to my union representative but he is not taking the harassment seriously because I am a woman. The union decided not to file a grievance. What can I do?

    Both the union and the employer have responsibilities under the AHR Act to address your complaint. The union may not use discriminatory reasons to decide whether or not it will file a grievance. The employer has a duty to ensure employees are not being sexually harassed. Remember that you also have the right to make a complaint against both the union and the employer.

    Also see the Alberta Labour Relations Board website at http://www.alrb.gov.ab.ca/

Updated: March 28, 2013



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