The Radio-Canada Workers’ Union (STTRC) did not fail in its “duty of fair representation” towards Pascale Nadeau, concludes the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) in a decision rendered last Wednesday and that La Presse was able to consult.

The former Téléjournal antenna chief accused the FNCC-CSN-affiliated union of having acted “arbitrarily” and “bad faith” in the wake of his tumultuous departure from the public network in the summer of 2021. The Council denies these accusations.

In her complaint, the former journalist pleaded that her union adviser, Me Julien Boucher-Carrier, had given bad advice and that he had taken too long to file a grievance for constructive dismissal and damage to reputation. This grievance was registered beyond the limitation period provided for in the collective agreement. Ms. Nadeau hoped that her case against her employer, thanks to a favorable CIRB decision, could be heard in arbitration despite her late filing. It will now take other arguments to convince the referee.

At the heart of the litigation: a “constructive dismissal” grievance that Ms. Nadeau wished to file against Radio-Canada, a request made to her union on March 16, 2021, July 7 and 8, 2021 and August 24, 2021. is that on August 25, 2021, the STTRC amended an existing grievance to include the issue of “constructive dismissal”.

An arbitration tribunal concluded that this ground should have been the subject of a separate complaint. A second grievance was therefore filed on February 16, 2022, but the 30-day limitation period set out in the collective agreement had expired.

According to Ms. Nadeau, the union notably erred “by refusing to make a serious investigation and checks concerning the applicable jurisprudence in order to determine whether she was the victim of a constructive dismissal”. The STTRC admitted to having made an error in the summer of 2021, while arguing that it did not justify a complaint to the CIRB.

In the Board’s view, “the union demonstrated that it understood the grievor’s situation, obtained the details of the case, expressed its understanding of the legal concept of constructive dismissal, repeatedly analyzed whether the grievance was well-founded in light of this interpretation and was open to adjusting its decision if the grievor provided new facts”.

“This demonstrates that the union has reached considered conclusions,” wrote the author of the decision, Sylvie M. D. Guilbert, lawyer and vice-president of the CIRB.

Go back. On February 17, 2021, Pascale Nadeau was suspended without pay for one month following an internal investigation triggered by an anonymous tip for “inappropriate behavior”. This “disciplinary sanction” led to the filing of a first grievance on February 25.

Ms. Nadeau also asked her union, on August 24, 2021, to file a complaint against her employer for defamation and damage to reputation in connection with public statements and tweets that mentioned that the former anchor had done “several casualties”.

At first, lawyer Julien Boucher-Carrier had erroneously argued that only the Superior Court had jurisdiction to decide reputation and defamation cases. After Ms. Nadeau sought the advice of a “personal attorney”, these issues were eventually added to the “constructive dismissal” grievance of February 16, 2022, past the statute of limitations.

In its decision, the Board recalls that “the union has the right to make errors which are otherwise free from bad faith or arbitrary conduct”.

“In this case, the Board is of the view that the union did not conduct a sloppy or superficial investigation into the issue of reputational damage or defamation,” the decision reads. On the contrary, according to the Board, the union made an adequate analysis in the circumstances of this case. »

Hearings on the merits of the first grievance, which relates to the suspension, are still ongoing. The second grievance must also be evaluated by an arbitrator.

Joined by La Presse, Pascale Nadeau’s lawyer in this case, Sophie Cloutier of Poudrier Bradet, said she was “disappointed and very surprised” by the CCRI’s decision. “But for us, it doesn’t stop there,” she explains over the phone. Ms. Nadeau is very anxious for the grievances to be heard by the arbitrator on the merits. »

Isn’t the fact that her client will now have to work alongside the union – which she was in confrontation with – on these files…strange? “C’est la vie,” she blurts out.