Family needs versus family choices (Legal view)

Employees said change to shift schedule discriminated against family status
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/16/2010

Four employees at an Ontario electricity distribution company cried foul when their shift schedule was altered by their employer and caused problems with their parental responsibilities.

However, when they filed grievances claiming discrimination based on family status, an arbitration board drew a line between serious family obligations that should be accommodated and normal family responsibilities employees should deal with themselves.

The four employees worked as linemen for Power Stream in Vaughan, Ont. As part of the collective agreement, employees could work five eight-hour shifts, from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., or four 10-hour shifts, from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., per week. All four worked the five-shift schedule because it allowed them to fulfill their responsibilities to their children.