Public Service Staffing Tribunal upholds complaint filed by CAPE against Health Canada

August 28, 2013

In a rare decision rendered on August 22, 2013, the Public Service Staffing Tribunal found that a complaint filed by CAPE on behalf of a member at Health Canada concerning his lay-off under the work force adjustment process was substantiated.

The Tribunal ordered the reversal of the decision to lay off the CAPE member because, in its estimation, the process was tainted by an abuse of authority. In fact, the Tribunal found that the four merit criteria considered in the process had not been evaluated properly.

Health Canada management had directed its evaluators to consider only the documents presented by the employees subjected to the selection for retention and lay-off (SERLO) process and prohibited its evaluators from seeking additional information to clarify certain aspects of the file. The Tribunal noted that “the rigid application of the rule not to seek additional information resulted in a failure to consider the complainant’s qualifications with an open mind.”

CAPE President Claude Poirier stated that“this decision clarifies the employer’s obligations when it comes to keeping favouritism and abuse of authority out of the process for identifying surplus employees. In the past few months, thousands of public service workers have had to fight to prove that they were qualified for positions they had held for months or even years. This decision will force employers to adopt an even more rigorous process.”

For your information, here is a PDF copy of the full text of the decision in English. The French version of the decision will be published shortly on the Public Service Staffing Tribunal website under file number 2012-0953.