Winning candidate had ‘better leadership’: Grievor
After he was passed over for a management posting, a worker at NB Power took offense with the decision.
Gilles Robichaud first worked for the employer in 1989 at the Dalhousie Generating Station, and in 2000, he transferred to the Belledune Generating Station in Gloucester County, N.B.
The open position for supervisor, warehouse inventory planning and operations, was posted on Oct. 26, 2017, with a closing date of Nov. 4.
The senior position was to supervise “the inventory warehouse and remote sites; identify, implement and communicate enhanced or new processes and monitor material security expenditures and storage to ensure efficient operations of the NB Power warehousing operation for the Northern area of the province,” said the posting.
After all the applications were processed, seven candidates were selected for the final process, including Robichaud and Terry Lapointe, who eventually became the successful candidate.
On Dec. 21, all candidates had been interviewed and passed the “validation meetings” which meant they were all initially qualified.
Answers and notes were entered into a computer program that tallied the scores for the candidates. Robichaud and Lapointe were the two top-rated applicants, with Lapointe narrowly ahead of Robichaud under the performance ranking category.
Lapointe was rated “highly recommended,” while Robichaud was classified as “recommended.” Their seniority dates were on the same day, and because everything was so close, Barb Harris, manager of department of inventory, planning and operation, and Jennifer MacPherson, human resources specialist, discussed who should be the winning employee.
Based on the answers given during the “validation meetings,” and his demonstrated “leadership” skills, Lapointe was awarded the position which he started on Jan. 18, 2018, said Harris.
On Feb. 28, Robichaud and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local 37, grieved the decision and charged the employer violated article 17.06 of the collective agreement.
Robichaud had plenty of supervisory experience at NB Power, and other workplaces, so he should have been given more consideration, he testified. As well, he had more experience in the warehouse at Belledune between 2001 and 2005, which was more than Lapointe, and he had more than two years of experience with NB Power field and plant operations, which Lapointe didn’t.
But, when asked whether he had more leadership abilities than Lapointe, “I don’t challenge that Terry Lapointe had better leadership skills than me,” said Robichaud.
“When ability and qualifications are equal, service shall govern. When ability and qualifications are equal and service is identical, other relevant factors will be considered (non-service time, previous acting assignments, previous experience, casual time, student time, etc.),” said article 17.06 of the agreement.
Arbitrator Michel Doucet dismissed the grievance.
“I do not doubt Harris’ sincerity when she said that ‘leadership’ is what made her select Lapointe for the position. She never challenged the fact that (Robichaud) had the same abilities and qualification as Lapointe and that he might have been able to do the job of supervisor. However, she was caught in a quandary and had to decide, after a rigorous selection process, which of two candidates who were tied should be retained. Harris, as the employer’s representative, exercised the managerial discretion provided for at article 3.01 of the collective agreement without discrimination or bias and took into consideration a relevant factor which resulted in Lapointe being chosen for the position.”
No evidence of anything untoward was presented, said the arbitrator, which meant the process was above board.
“If the employer had taken into consideration the colour of the employee’s shirt during the ‘evaluation meeting’, this would not have been a ‘relevant factor.’ However, taking into consideration the ‘leadership skills’ of the employees can be considered as a relevant factor. During her evidence, Harris clearly indicated that what she was looking for in the successful candidate was his leadership abilities and this evidence was not challenged. Her evidence was also that Lapointe’s leadership skills, that he had demonstrated during the ‘evaluation meeting,’ had tipped the scale in his favour. Even (Robichaud), during his cross-examination, did not challenge the assertion that Lapointe had better leadership skills than him.
Reference: NB Power and Canadian Office and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 37. Michel Doucet — arbitrator. Clarence Bennett for the employer. Brenda Comeau for the employee. June 12, 2019. 2019 CarswellNB 245