Union alleges hiring process was flawed
Three nurses at a hospital in Sudbury, Ont., each filed a grievance after applying for two open full-time positions in the microbiology department.
Each of the nurses, represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), were screened out of the competition at an early stage and not granted an interview.
Management said that was because the posting required applicants who have at least one year of experience in microbiology.
The positions were awarded to two part-time medical laboratory technologists who had microbiology experience.
According to the collective agreement, the hospital is required to consider first whether full-time employees are qualified for the position before considering part-time employees.
OPSEU alleged the hiring process was flawed. For one, it argued the employer was restricted during the life of the collective agreement from introducing a new process for filling vacancies; and second, that the qualifications relied upon by the employer in the posting were unreasonable and arbitrary.
The union also said it required job postings to be outside of each of the hospital’s four laboratories and requested production of all material used by the employer to screen the successful applicants, including any submissions.
The employer argued that the material requested was not arguably relevant to whether the qualifications in the postings were reasonable. The employer characterized the requests as a "fishing expedition" — an exercise to discover whether there was any case at all, rather than a request for information to support a case.
The union was simply speculating that the documents might support its position, the employer said.
Furthermore, experience is a different consideration in each laboratory specialty, so there is no basis for ordering postings from all departments in the laboratory, when only a posting in microbiology is at issue, the employer said.
Arbitrator Lorne Slotnick agreed the union was not embarking on a fishing expedition — but also said the employer was right in saying the union’s request was too broad.
"In my view, the process used in the filling of vacancies in the laboratory beyond the microbiology department will be of no assistance assessing the union’s arguments in this matter," he said. "The grievances focus on a microbiology job competition, and details of how other jobs were filled will have no bearing on whether the experience requirements imposed by the employer for the microbiology positions are reasonable, nor can I see that this information will be useful in the estoppel argument or any other argument that the process used in this particular posting was flawed."
Reference: Health Sciences North and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 659. Lorne Slotnick – arbitrator. Geoff Jeffrey for the employer, Elba Bendo for the union. Feb. 12, 2016.